ANDERSON — Nothing seems more American for many than shooting off fireworks and eating hot dogs on the Fourth of July, but now that the holiday is over it might be safer to leave the franks behind.
Michelle Richart, St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital community educator and dietitian, said the quality of meat, ingredients and processing make most hot dogs unhealthy.
“If you’re going to (eat) hot dogs, you’re not going to want to more than twice a month, that’s my advice,” she said. “They’re not something you want to feed your child every day for lunch.”
People should check food labels at the grocery store and avoid hot dogs that are more than 150 calories, 14 grams of fat, six grams of saturated fat or 450 milligrams of sodium, Richart said.
High sodium can cause high blood pressure problems, fat content is tied to heart disease and high calories can contribute to obesity issues. Richart said some hot dogs are processed with sodium nitrate, which is linked to cancer risks.
Low-fat franks can be a healthier alternative, although some people don’t think they taste as good and it’s still important to check the label, Richart said. There are also vegetarian hot dogs.
People shouldn’t rely on turkey or chicken hot dogs either, Richart said, because they can still be high in fat.
Cheese brats and other stuffed hot dogs should be avoided, and toppings like chili can be high in calories and fat, depending on what it’s made from, Richart said. Relish can even cause sugar and salt issues.
Richart said classic ketchup and mustard are low in fat and relatively healthy, though.
“You want to keep (hot dogs) the exception and not the rule,” she said. “Everything in moderation, as the saying goes. It’s OK for a special occasion like the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. That’s not going to cause a problem.”
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