I used to be totally against anything related to a hot dog. Two kids later, I find myself turning to them as a viable option for the occasional backyard barbecue or last-minute weeknight dinner. Part of the reason I changed my mind was because of healthier options. After reading TONS of ingredient labels, I found some decent choices out there, with something to please everyone (including vegetarians). In honor of National Hot Dog Day, here are some of the top dogs.
Applegate Farms Uncured Beef Hot Dog
Beef, spices and that’s about it. These tasty hot dogs are free of nitrates and have only 70 calories and 6 grams of fat. Organic versions are also available and Applegate Farms uses no antibiotics with their animals.
Field Roast Vegetarian Frankfurter
Super popular among vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, this 2.75-ounce “frankfurter” contains 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. It’s made from wheat gluten, tomato paste and spices. It’s a bit high in the sodium department (690 milligrams), so reserve for occasional enjoyment.
Lightlife Smart Dogs
Soy and pea protein isolate make up this 50-calorie dog. Two grams of fat and 330 mg sodium keep it light. The flavor could be slightly more robust but a solid veggie option nonetheless.
Turkey and Chicken
Applegate Farms – The Great Organic Turkey Hot Dog
Applegate Farms wins out for poultry too. Nothing but simple ingredients going into this 60-calorie dog. Sodium and fat are also in check at 370 milligrams and 3.5 grams.
Thin ‘N Trim All Natural Gourmet Chicken Hot Dogs
The name made me giggle but these dogs are no joke. Made with skinless breast and spices, these nitrate-free dogs have 70 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium.
What’s In a Conventional Hot Dog?
A typical dog is highly processed and may contain low-quality meats and oodles of preservatives. Nitrates are often used to enhance color and increase shelf-life.
Classic hot dogs may be made of pork or beef (or both). They contain about 150 to 180 calories per link. Where it gets really ugly is the fat and sodium. One link has (on average) 14 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 400 to 500 milligrams of sodium, or nearly 20 percent of the daily recommendation.
TELL US: What’s your go-to healthier hot dog?
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »