Three Ways to Spice Up Your Dog

Shanthi Appelo
Shanthi Appelo

| 2 min read

hot dogs
From the ballpark to outdoor get-togethers, hot dogs are a quintessential American summer staple. Hot dogs are a food the whole family can enjoy. However, it can leave shoppers wondering how to pick the healthiest choice.

Choosing the healthiest hot dog

Hot dog ingredients may seem like a mystery, and that’s partly because ingredients come from a cocktail of meat trimmings, fillers and preservatives. An aisle full of hot dog choices with packages boasting health claims and “all-natural ingredients” can be confusing.
It’s worth noting that hot dogs are a processed meat product, classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning they are considered carcinogenic to humans. While keeping processed meat intake to a minimum is the best idea, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the healthiest hot dogs:
  • Ingredients. Look for items with fewer ingredients on the list. Moreover, scope out grass-fed beef options as these are better for heart health – containing more healthy omega-3 fatty acids and less saturated fat.
  • Sodium. Sodium intake adds up quickly, and just one hot dog tallying 500 mg of sodium may send someone over their recommended limit. Aim for choices that are lower in sodium.
  • Additives. Choosing uncured hot dogs is a good way to go to avoid nitrates and nitrites, ingredients that may form nitrosamines, a cancer-linked compound. Pro-tip –All organic hot dogs are uncured.
  • Veggie dogs. Veggie dogs are a great option for vegans or those trying to reduce their animal protein intake. Like their meaty counterpart, veggie dogs are often highly processed and high in saturated fat and salt. Choose the option with the fewest number of ingredients for the healthiest choice.
Don’t forget the condiments
Among all the condiments, ketchup is part of a longstanding, mostly friendly, debate about whether it belongs on a hot dog. Like ketchup, most condiments are culprits for adding excess sodium to many diets. When choosing hot dog condiments like relish, ketchup and mustard (especially honey mustard), aim to choose options with the least amount of added sugar, sodium content and the fewest ingredients. Moreover, consider choosing whole wheat hot dog buns to add more nutrients and fiber to the meal.
We’re not here to solve the condiment debate of whether ketchup goes on a hot dog, but we do have some easy recipes to elevate the flavor of hot dogs and give them some much-needed nutrition.

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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