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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Hot Dogs

These summer staples are a BBQ essential, but you should know the side effects of eating a couple of these at every cookout.

This popular summer fare is delicious, but do you grab it at every cookout? The hot dog is one of the most widely-sold sausage products in the country, so the answer is probably yes.

Hot dogs are made from ground cured beef or pork (or both), which are pushed into casings and are twisted into 6-inch links. Nowadays, you can also find hot dogs made from turkey, soy, chicken, and other products. When it comes to enjoying your hot dog, typically people lay those links inside a bun and top them with condiments like ketchup, mustard, or sauerkraut. Curious about how all of this meat and these toppings will affect your health? We break down the side effects of eating hot dogs, once and for all. And if you're curious about that bun, as well, read up on What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Bread Every Day.

Helps repair and build your body's tissue

Woman flexing muscle in front of personal trainer

One 6-inch hot dog provides about 5.1 grams of protein. This macronutrient is known to help repair and build your body's tissues. However, you certainly want to keep hot dogs on the menu for an occasional treat as it does have its setbacks, too. For that reason, it's wise to stock up on these The 30 Best High-Protein Foods for Metabolism instead.

It may increase your risk for cancer

Senior woman sitting on the gynecological chair during a medical consultation with gynecologist

Hot dogs contain preservatives called nitrites and nitrates, which are added to help lengthen shelf life and minimize bacterial growth. Nitrites are also responsible for giving hot dogs their bright red color. The issue is, there is a possible link between the consumption of nitrites and cancer. If you really want to chow down on hot dogs, then look for labels that are nitrate-free, no-added nitrates, or uncured (I like Applegate Farms).

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It can increase your risk for heart disease

man is putting his hand to the chest

Processed meats are especially high in artery-clogging saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease. One 6-inch hot dog contains approximately 150 calories, 13.5 grams of fat, and 5.3 grams of saturated fat. That's 26% of the recommended daily maximum for saturated fat – from only one dog! If you like to chow down on two or three, that can rack up those grams of saturated fat. Besides cutting back on hot dogs, give your heart a break by skipping out on these 50 Foods That Can Cause Heart Disease.

It may help gut health

Hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard

If you like sauerkraut, then pile it on that dog. This fermented food contains live and active cultures, which may act as probiotics and may have powerful health benefits. They also help your gut's ability to absorb the nutrients from the foods passing through.

It may lead to high blood pressure

Doctor checking blood pressure

Close to all Americans go over the recommended maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Although your body needs only a small amount of sodium to properly function, too much sodium can be bad for your health. According to the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines, overdoing it on sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which is a major cause of stroke and heart disease. You can count hot dogs among the foods highest in sodium: one 6-inch hot dog provides 21% of the daily recommended maximum of sodium and that's not counting everything else you eat throughout the day. Replace hot dogs with any of these 20 Foods That Lower Blood Pressure to get your health back on track.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN
Toby Amidor is an award winning dietitian and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author who believes healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. Read more about Toby
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