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Grilling dogs
Six hot dogs cooking on a gas-fired barbeque grill.  Matt Carey—Getty Images

What Hot Dogs Do to Your Body

Jul 19, 2017
TIME Health
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It's National Hot Dog Day, another made up food holiday that delivers free or discounted hot dogs to hungry Americans. Among the many deals to honor the unofficial holiday, Burger King will sell its classic grilled hot dogs for 79 cents each until the end of July, while hot dogs are available for a $1 each at Sonic Drive-In locations. But hot dogs are probably not the best meal for the health conscious.

Although the ballpark staple is a popular summer food, hot dogs are definitely not a favorite among health professionals, who take issue with the low nutrition levels of the food and how hot dogs are processed.

A typical pork hot dog contains 204 calories and 18 g of total fat and 620 g of sodium — and this is before condiments like ketchup, mustard and relish are added.

Furthermore, eating hot dogs increases your chances of getting certain diseases. Hot dogs, like many processed meats, are linked to increased risks for health issues like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and higher mortality.

An analysis of the diets of 1,660 people found that the risk for getting bladder cancer went up with the amount of processed meats consumed. And a 2015 study found that eating processed foods made for a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes than eating red meat.

Of particular concern among health experts and doctors are nitrates, preservatives added to hot dogs from synthetic materials or natural sources that give the meat longer shelf life and more color. When digested, nitrates turn into nitrites, which have been linked to cancer in test subject animals.

Nitrates and nitrites have so worried consumers that wiener icon Oscar Mayer announced in May that it would remove artificial preservatives and the added compounds from its hot dogs.

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