Hot dogs are a popular, inexpensive, all-American choice for most barbecues, sporting events, and the occasional lunch or meal. Personally I love a good hot dog at the movie theater. However, many hot dog varieties and brands are riddled with preservatives, unwanted meat parts and other chemicals, making them an unhealthy choice for you and your family. Learn how to choose healthy hot dogs so that you can continue to enjoy this treat without feeling guilty.

Things You Will Need

Understanding of hot dog nutritional and ingredient labels

Step 1

Hot dogs are generally inexpensive (although overpriced at events), and so most varieties offer sub-par ingredients. Learn how to read hot dog labels so that you can discern which brands are better for you than others. Let's start with the nutrition label. Most packages contain lots of fat, salt, cholesterol, sodium, and nitrates. Nitrates in particular turn into sodium nitrites once in your body, which some studies have shown is a cancer-causing agent. Lots of salt can cause hypertension, though in moderation you should be fine. Many hot dogs also contain soy and other fillers, and so do not have very much protein. You can find organic or nitrate-free hot dogs to make sure you are not ingesting some of these unhealthy ingredients.

Step 2

Next, look closely at the ingredients. Be wary of "meat by products" and "variety meats" which means that the hot dog may contain organs like kidneys, hearts and livers. In general, you want to purchase hot dogs that are advertised as all beef, all turkey, or all chicken. Also, Kosher hot dogs by law must contain only beef. Frankfurters by law can contain up to 3.5% fillers. Weiners that list "meat" can contain any combination of chicken, turkey and/or beef. Though it may cost you slightly more to purchase healthy hot dogs for your family, if you eat them once a week or more, you may wish to consider the expense as one that is worth it. If cost is the biggest factor, purchase hot dogs in bulk around barbecue/grilling-friendly holidays, such as July 4th, Labor Day, and Memorial Day as you will likely find all brands of hot dogs on sale. Stock up on coupons for the brand of your choosing, and then use these coupons with the sales you find around these holidays. You can freeze your supply for up to six months.

Tips & Warnings

In general, I have found that Hebrew National Hot Dogs, or Beef Ball Park Franks are a cut above the rest in terms of health factors and taste.