In honour of one of the most important months of the year – National Hot Dog Month – we thought we’d get you prepared for July…or the month of meat.
Now, why would a health website talk about hot dogs, when they’re infamous for being an unhealthy food choice in the summertime.
That’s true; while ingredients vary by brand, you’re unlikely to see any wieners on a nutritionist’s recommended food list.
But, perhaps there are healthy hot dogs out there – if you know where to look.
Hot dog mogul Oscar Mayer is trying to spread awareness about healthy hot dogs through their For the Love of Hot Dogs campaign. The campaign driven by the Kraft Heinz-owned company is pushing their version of the ‘healthy’ hot dog, at just the right time for summer barbeques.
Nutritionists believe by removing some of the more unwelcome ingredients in the product, it’ll be a step in the right direction – though that doesn’t necessarily make them healthy. They noted that hot dogs are still mainly comprised of processed meats, making them an occasional meal at best.
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“At the end of the day, hot dogs are a ‘sometimes’ food,” says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietitian and assistant clinical professor at the University of San Diego and the University of California, San Francisco.
Having said that, Oscar Mayer says their new hot dogs have no artificial preservatives, no byproducts, and no added nitrites or nitrates – they say they’ve gone ‘back to the cutting board’ for the past year to develop the self-proclaimed ‘world’s best hot dogs’.
They’ve made new versions of their beef, turkey, and cheese hot dog varieties.
“We’re excited that everyone will now have access to a better quality hot dog with the best quality ingredients,” said Greg Guidotti, head of marketing at Oscar Mayer, in a press release.
Oscar Mayer isn’t quite ready to call their hot dogs healthy yet, however, opting to stick with a more ambiguous ‘healthier hot dog’.
Food experts agree.
“I don’t know if I’d use the word ‘healthy’ with any processed meat,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, a licensed, registered dietitian, and wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
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Nutritionists say that even with a healthier hot dog alternative, you should still compliment your dog with natural foods like corn on the cob, beans, watermelon, and other picnic-friendly foods.
“For healthy eating, stick as close to nature as possible. There are no hot dogs roaming in the fields,” said Kirkpatrick.
Ferraro also noted that the Oscar Mayer campaign is all about what the hot dogs don’t have, rather than what’s still in them.
“Organic junk food is still junk food,” she said as an example.
So, is it right to call these new hot dogs, ‘healthy’?
“This is a step in the right direction,” Ferraro said, “but I don’t want anyone to believe there is such a thing as a healthy hot dog.”