Hot Dogs and Your Health

What goes better with summer’s favorite pastime than a juicy hotdog? According to the National Hotdog and Sausage Council baseball fans will eat almost 28 million hotdogs this year.

Personally, I can’t stand hotdogs… and I’m not a huge fan of baseball either. (I wonder if one begets the other?) In fact, I cringe whenever I hear my young daughter tell me that she was fed a hotdog at a friend or relative’s home. Forgive me. It’s just that I have a long-standing dislike for the popular frankfurter mainly because I spent the better part of my childhood hearing about how bad they were for one’s health. As a child my registered nurse grandmother bombarded me (and my brothers) with the health risks associated with hotdogs, especially the fact that they are loaded with sodium nitrate.

Now, before anyone in the hotdog industry tries to find out where I live, let me say this: While hotdogs are not considered a health food, they can find a place in a healthy diet as long as the diet is balanced. But, at the same time, there is no disputing the facts. According to health studies, consuming too many hotdogs can increase type II Diabetes risk, increase blood pressure, and increase your risk for colon cancer and stomach cancer. Not to mention the fact that hotdogs also put you at risk for Listeria contamination.

Here’s some proof: Recently, Harvard researchers found eating 5 hotdogs or more a week increases risk of type II diabetes by 50%. In addition, scientists found hotdogs contain nitrites that convert to nitrosamines, which are associated with certain cancers. For example, researchers found the risk of colon cancer increases 50% with long-term consumption of processed meat. If that doesn’t make you think twice before you down that next dog consider this: The Journal of National Cancer Institute found the more processed meat you eat the more likely you will develop stomach cancer.

However, none of this suggests that you need to completely eliminate hotdogs from your diet. Just remember moderation is key. Also, there are ways you can make your hotdog a bit healthier:

· Choose nitrite-free or low sodium hotdogs—such as chicken hotdogs or tofu hotdogs.

· Steam or boil your hotdog instead of grilling it.

· Add sauerkraut to your hotdog. The isothiocyanates found in sauerkraut reduces colon cancer.

· Load up on mustard. The turmeric in mustard has been shown to reduce cancer risk.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.