Which is Healthier: Burger vs. Hot Dog

by in Healthy Tips, July 5, 2011
hamburger hot dog
Burgers or dogs, which is the healthier picnic pick?

In this new series, we’re pitting some of your favorite foods against each other. We’re starting out with the hottest fight of the barbecue season: burger verses hot dog. Who’s the winner of this battle?


Burgers aren’t about ground beef anymore. Although you can make a killer burger from 90 to 95% lean ground beef, burger alternatives like turkey, bison, ostrich, and fish are delicious too. These leaner choices provide tons of protein, iron and energy boosting B-vitamins.

It’s easy to rack up the calories with huge burger patties, tons of cheese and other fatty toppings, mayo and other calorie-laden condiments and huge buns. Ground beef and other ground up proteins are also at higher risk for food bugs like E. Coli.

Healthy Burger Tips:

  • Opt for leaner meats like 90 to 95 percent lean ground beef, bison, or turkey breast. If lighter options aren’t available, then mind your portions (aim for 3 to 4 ounce patties).
  • Pile burger high with veggies like fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
  • Be mindful of sauces—use 1 to 2 tablespoons to control portions.
  • Choose high fat toppers like cheese, mayo, avocado and fried onions sparingly.
  • More ways to lighten up burgers
  • Healthy burger recipes

Hot Dog

Hot dogs aren’t only an adult favorite, kids love them too. I always know I can get my kids to eat a ho tdog when we head out to a barbecue. The calories aren’t out of control — a regular sized (1.6 ounce) hot dog with a touch of ketchup, mustard and a bun only has a few hundred calories.

These bad boys are highly processed and most brands contain nitrites. Most folks don’t stop at just one—they eat 2 or 3 hotdogs at one sitting—not to mention the mayonnaise-laden sides and other barbecue goodies that get gobbled up too.

Hot dogs have also been linked to the bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes, shown to effect the very young and old.

Healthy Hot Dog Tips:

  • A variety of hot dogs are available such as nitrate-free or reduced fat.
  • If you need a second dog, hold back on the bun or the mayonnaise-filled side salads.
  • Sauerkraut is a low calorie topping for hot dogs that can help fill you up, though it’s high in sodium.

YOU VOTE: Who’s the winner? Burger or hot dog?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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