Hillshire Farm was founded in 1934 and is now owned by the food company Sara Lee. Hillshire Farm produces smoked sausages and other processed meats. One of the most popular products is Lit’l Smokies Cocktail Links, which are miniature cocktail weenies made with pork, turkey and beef. Multiple recipes for these sausages are available on the Hillshire Farm’s website, but before you reach for one at the next party or tailgate, become aware of the nutritional impact.
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The traditional Lit’l Smokies are made with pork, turkey and beef. An all-beef and a turkey version are also available. Lit’l Smokies are also available in cheddar flavor.
Calories and Macronutrients
Almost all of the Lit’l Smokies contain 160 calories for five sausages. The exception is the turkey version, which has half those calories for the same serving – 80 calories for five mini wieners. Five of the beef, traditional or cheddar varieties have 14 g of fat, with 5 g of saturated fat. The turkey version contains just 4 g of fat with 1.5 saturated fat. All Lit’l Smokies contain between 7 and 8 g of protein. Most versions contain 2 g of carbohydrates, except for turkey Lit’l Smokies, which contain 4 g.
Five of the sausages contain between 480 mg, for the turkey, and 550 mg of sodium. The Institute of Medicine recommends limiting sodium to 1.5 g daily, or 1,500 mg. The size of the cocktail sausages makes it possible that you would eat more than one serving and easily overshoot these sodium recommendations for the day.
Other Nutritional Considerations
Lit’l Smokies contain 1 to 2 g of sugar per serving, in the form of added corn syrup. Traditional Lit’l Smokies provide 2 percent of the daily recommended allowance of calcium and 2 percent of iron. The cheddar flavor provides 4 percent of the RDA for calcium and 2 percent of vitamin A. The turkey version offers no calcium, but has 6 percent of the RDA for iron.
Lit’l Smokies contain sodium nitrite and monosodium glutamate. Sodium nitrite is an ingredient that enhances the color of processed meat and is commonly found in many deli meats, sausages and bacon. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, warns against consuming nitrites; they point out that the additive has links to the development of various types of cancer. Monosodium glutamate, an amino acid that enhances food’s flavor, can cause headaches, nausea, weakness and burning sensations in the neck and forearms in sensitive people, also notes CSPI.