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Originating in Germany before becoming popular in the United States, hotdogs are the perfect street food, sold at stands and carts.
However, if you’re partial to eating hotdogs more regularly than you would care to admit you might be wondering: Are uncured hotdogs better for you?
In this article, I will explore some interesting information about hotdogs, from whether uncured hotdogs are better for you to the dangers of processed meats.
So, let’s get started.
Are uncured hotdogs better for you?
In terms of whether uncured hotdogs are better for you, it’s a controversial debate that is concerned with synthetic and natural nitrates that are found in cured and uncured meats.
Hot dogs are one of the most processed sources of meat on the market. The average hot dog contains about 10 mg of nitrates. Nitrates and nitrites are compounds that occur naturally in the human body and some foods.
They’re also added to certain processed foods to extend shelf life. For years nutrition experts have warned about the use of potentially harmful chemicals in foods.
Synthetic nitrates and nitrites are added into hot dogs and other cured meats, such as ham and bacon, as they prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, add a salty flavor, and enhance the flavor and colour of foods. Nitrates are present in small amounts in processed meats and in larger amounts in healthy foods like vegetables.
They also occur in drinking water, and the human body produces nitrates, too. So, why should you try to avoid nitrates?
The problem with synthetic nitrates is that during the processing of meat, adding preservatives such as sodium nitrite to prevent the growth of germs may add compounds that could increase the potential of these foods to cause cancer.
When a hotdog or other processed meat product is labeled “cured,” that simply means that the food contains synthetic nitrates or nitrites. Uncured hotdogs, on the other hand, are free of synthetic nitrites.
Bearing this in mind, one would assume that uncured dogs are the healthier choice. However, it’s important to note that the majority of uncured meats still contain nitrates and nitrates, although they’re from a natural source such as celery powder and juice.
They’re labeled “uncured” and “no nitrates or nitrites added” because that’s what USDA labeling laws require when naturally sourced nitrates and nitrites are used.
Oscar Mayer, for example, has a new hotdog recipe that uses nitrite derived from celery juice instead of artificial sodium nitrite. What sets the nitrates in vegetables apart from those in cured hot dogs is the fact that vegetables come with vitamin C and other compounds that inhibit conversion into nitrosamines.
However, many experts argue that nitrites are nitrites – and whether they are synthetic or natural makes little to no difference.
A large concern associated with processed meats is that nitrites can combine with compounds found in meat at high temperatures and produce nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens in animals. This is a ‘chemical reaction that can happen regardless of the source of the nitrites, including celery juice’, and thus makes the debate complicated.
Whether you are decide to start buying uncured hotdogs, the fact remains: hotdogs are a processed food that aren’t ever going to be the healthiest option. When it comes to eating hotdogs and other processed foods, the key to remember is that they should only be consumed in moderation and after thoroughly cooked and as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
It’s always a good idea to be mindful and check the ingredients list of the back of processed foods to understand what you are putting into your body.
However, whether you opt for cured or uncured hotdogs at the store, hotdogs should never be a part of your daily diet as they aren’t a particularly nutritional option. While they are fine to have every now and then, hotdogs should never be a part of your daily diet or eaten on a regular basis.
Keep reading for a better understanding of some of the dangers of processed meats.
Dangers of Eating Processed Meat Regularly
Processed meat is generally considered to be unhealthy. Some of the dangers of eating high volumes of processed meat regularly include but are not limited to:
- Processed meat is associated with chronic disease
Eating processed meat has been linked to chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, bowel and stomach cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Studies have shown that people who eat processed meat are more likely to get these diseases.
- Eating processed meat is linked to leading an unhealthy lifestyle
Processed meat has consistently been linked with harmful effects on health. Health conscious individuals have been aware of this for years. However, people who don’t eat processed meat in moderation are at higher risk of developing disease.
- High levels of sodium chloride
Processed meat products are usually high in sodium chloride, also known as salt. While processed meat is not the only offender, it’s important to know that excessive salt consumption may play a role in hypertension and heart disease.
The meat industry mainly uses sodium nitrite that companies currently use to cure meats such as hotdogs, cold cuts, and bacon. Nitrites can combine with compounds found in meat at high temperatures and cause nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens in animals.
Due to the dangers associated with processed meats, hotdogs and other processed meats cannot be considered a healthy food that you should be eating on a regular basis.
When it comes to healthy food choices, making simple swaps such as buying uncured hot dogs rather than cured hot dogs can cut down on the synthetic preservatives you’re putting in your body.
You can reduce your risk of nitrosamine exposure by carefully studying the label when shopping for processed meats to find a product with limited or no additives that contain nitrates.
Hotdogs, along with other processed meats should only be eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced diet.