Does Eating Hot Dogs Have Any Positive Effects?

Picnic plate of grilled hot dogs
A plate of grilled hot dogs on a picnic table. (Image: MSPhotographic/iStock/Getty Images)

A hot dog slathered with ketchup may be your idea of a tasty meal, but there are very few benefits to eating this food on a regular basis. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service reports that hot dogs can be made from beef, pork, turkey, chicken or a combination of these types of meat. The meat on its own supplies some vitamins and minerals, but the other ingredients put into hot dogs cause this food to be mostly detrimental to your health and to your diet.

Protein

One of the only redeeming qualities of any type of hot dog is that they supply protein. MayoClinic.com reports that protein is important for growth and development, and also supplies energy. Between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calories should come from protein foods, and a hot dog can help you reach that recommendation. A beef hot dog contains 6 g of protein, a turkey dog has 5.5 grams, a chicken hot dog supplies almost 7 grams. A pork hot dog has the most protein with 9.74 grams.

Iron

Another positive effect of eating hot dogs is that you will consume a small amount of iron. Including iron in your diet helps boost your immunity, and also enables your body to circulate sufficient amounts of oxygen. A pork hot dog will supply you with the most iron with 2.81 mg per hot dog. A beef hot dog supplies 0.81 mg, a turkey dog contains 0.66 mg and a chicken hot dog has 0.53 mg.

Saturated Fat

The amount of fat in most hot dogs works to cancel out the positive benefits of the protein and iron by making your meal too high in saturated fat. MayoClinic.com reports that eating large amounts of saturated fat may cause you to be at an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A pork hot dog has the most saturated fat with 6.6 g per dog. A beef hot dog has 5.9 g and a low-fat hot dog still contains 2.1 grams. Turkey dogs have 1.8 g of saturated fat and chicken hot dogs contain 1.7 grams.

Sodium

A hot dog can contain between one-quarter and one-third of the 2,300 mg of sodium you need for an entire day. A high-sodium diet may put you at an increased risk of stroke, kidney problems and high blood pressure. A chicken hot dog has the least amount of sodium with 380 mg per serving. A turkey dog comes next with 485 mg. A beef hot dog contains 600 mg of sodium and a pork hot dog contains 620 mg. A low-fat hot dog has the most sodium with 716 mg per serving.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Most hot dogs contain nitrates and nitrites, which are additives that help preserve the shelf life and achieve their pink color. If your favorite dog contains either nitrates or nitrites you should know that they have been linked to cancer, particularly childhood cancer. The Cancer Prevention Coalition notes that children who eat 12 or more hot dogs a month have a nine times higher risk of developing leukemia. Some brands of hot dogs do not contain nitrates and nitrites and they are better options for your health.

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