The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council notes that Americans spent more than 1 billion dollars purchasing hot dogs from grocery stores in 2010. In addition to grocery stores, you can find hot dogs at ball games, holiday celebrations and picnics. In spite of their popularity, if you take a look at the ingredients and nutrition of a hot dog, you may decide to eat them only on rare occasion.
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A hot dog can be made from a variety of ingredients, including turkey, beef or a combination of several different meat products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A hot dog must begin as a "semisolid product," which the manufacturer puts through a process to reduce the size of the initial product into minutely-sized particles. Flavorings, seasonings and preservatives combine with the meat product during the manufacturing process. The USDA indicates that skinless hot dogs are the most popular type. Each hot dog should have a maximum water content of 10 percent and must not contain more than 3.5 percent of non-meat binders or extenders.
Calories and Fat
A standard beef hot dog has 148 calories, while a turkey or chicken hot dog each contain 100 calories. A hot dog made primarily from pork has 204 calories. The pork hot dog has 18 g of fat, while the beef hot dog contains 13 g of fat, and the chicken and turkey hot dogs have about 7 g of fat. The fat in beef hot dogs is about 60 percent monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and 40 percent saturated fat. In contrast, the chicken and turkey hot dogs have about 25 percent of their calories from saturated fats. The American Heart Association recommends that Americans consume no more than 7 percent of their total caloric intake from saturated fats, as this type of unhealthy fat increases your risk of heart disease.
Hot dogs contain some beneficial nutrients. A turkey or chicken hot dog has 5.5 g of protein each, a beef hot dog contains 5 g and a pork hot dog has about 9 g. An adult needs between 46 and 56 g of protein a day. Hot dogs contain less than 2 g of carbohydrates, no fiber, small amounts of sugar and a trace amount of iron. All hot dogs all have trace amounts of some B vitamins, no vitamin C and a small amount of folate. Hot dogs have between 380 and 513 mg of sodium per serving, making the hot dogs a high sodium choice. You should limit your total sodium intake for the day to less than 2,300 mg.
In addition to being high in fat and sodium, the processing of hot dogs may increase your risk of developing serious diseases. A meta-analysis and review study published in the May 2010 issue of the journal "Circulation" found that consuming processed meats, such as sausage or hot dogs, may increase your chances of developing diabetes or coronary heart disease. In contrast, the study did not find an increased risk from eating unprocessed red meat. Limit your hot dog consumption to avoid the sodium, nitrates and fat in standard hot dogs. If you enjoy hot dogs, a vegetarian hot dog product or a low-sodium, low-fat version is a healthier option.