Yes, Hot dogs are bad for you. Hot dog meat is processed and it is widely agreed that all processed meats are associated with some form of adverse health effect, including cancer.
For those of you who might be unclear, processed meat is meat that has in some way been modified to change the taste and/or extend the shelf life of the product. There have been numerous studies and reports suggesting that high consumption of processed meat can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. In one particular study, The World Health Organization recognized that people who had a large intake of processed meats, like hot dogs, had a 50% increase in lower colon and rectal cancer.
These general health risks aside, let's look at the specifics of hot dogs. One of the biggest problems that many people have with hot dogs, particularly those that are mass produced, is the unknown element involved. If you were to look at the ingredients on the back of a hot dog packet, you would find vague phrases like 'specially selected trimmings'. This suggests vast amounts of quality control to source the best meat for your favored hot dog, when the reality is far different. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that much of the meat includes: muscle, fatty tissue, head meat, skin, feet, blood and slaughter by-products.
The fat content of a single pork hot dog is ludicrously high. Approximately 18 grams of fat. Considering that the average recommended daily intake of fat for an adult is anywhere between 44 and 78 grams of fat, this makes up a large proportion. 7 grams of the total fat content is made up of saturated fats. While OK to consume in moderate amounts, large quantities of saturated fats increase cholesterol in the blood which could result in heart disease or strokes. Short-term, let's not forget about how fat can increase your weight as well, which increases the risk of other diseases like diabetes.
As previously mentioned, processed meats like hot dogs have been known to increase the risk of cancer. The ingredient most closely linked to this increase are the preservatives used known as nitrites. While nitrites are fairly inert by themselves, they can convert into nitrosamine in the body. This typically happens when the nitrites are exposed to a high heat or acidic environment. Nitrosamine is a known carcinogen.
Additionally, the high sodium content in hot dogs can result in medical complications like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. According to the American Health Association, we should be consuming less than 1500mg of sodium each day. One hot dog can make up as much as 44% of that total.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Many of the health risks mentioned in this article are more likely to come from mass produced hot dogs than those that have been home-made and often sell in butchers and food markets. Where possible, try to eat home-made hot dogs rather than the highly processed ones that are generally bad for you.
Possible short-term side effects
- allergic reaction
Possible long-term side effects
- weight gain / obesity
- increased cholesterol
- heart disease
Ingredients to be aware of
- sodium nitrate
- sodium nitrite
- saturated fat
- excessive amounts sodium
- processed meat
- sodium erythorbate
- potassium lactate
- easy and convenient to prepare
- natural, grass-fed meats
- uncured hot dogs
- organic hot dogs