Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nathan’s "to die for" Hot Dog! How Much Is Your Health Worth?

Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest was held this year on Coney Island at the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. The winner was Joey Chestnut from San Jose, California. Chestnut ate a whopping 62 hotdogs to claim $20,000 in cash and prizes.

We all know that the hot dog, a classic summertime treat is not the healthiest thing we can eat. So are the cash and prizes won by Joey Chestnut worth the health consequences? And what about the consequences to our own health when we consume the hot dog? A hot dog is one of the most processed foods we can eat and is full of toxins, preservatives, sodium and food coloring. Hot dogs contain two of the worst chemicals found in foods today, sodium nitrate and MSG. Sodium-nitrate is a preservative that gives the hot dog its pinkish color and gives it a longer shelf-life. Eating too much sodium nitrate has been strongly linked to cancer.

MSG is another chemical in hot dogs that flavors the hot dog. However, this flavoring is so intense that it actually kills neurons. So by consuming a few hot dogs at a barbecue, you are, in fact, killing neurons and making yourself more at risk for various types of cancer. Therefore, the competitors participating in the hot dog eating contest are killing numerous neurons in their bodies and causing themselves to be at a much greater risk for cancer than they ever would be if they did not participate in the contest. If that is not enough to way the consequences of this contest, a single hot dog contains...
  • 297 calories 
  • 18.21 grams of fat
  • 6.88 grams of saturated fat
  •  .49 grams of trans fat
  • 34.40mg of cholesterol
  •  692.07mg of sodium
  •  23.98 grams of carbohydrates
Now multiply all of those values, which are shocking enough on their own, by 62. What do you think that amount of calories, fat and sodium does to your body?

With this said, I love organic turkey dogs, as they are a healthier alternative to regular hot dogs. Buying hot dogs that are labeled 100% beef, turkey, chicken or tofu and that are also labeled organic and nitrate free is a better option to the classic hot dog. Applegate is a my favorite brand. They are available in health food stores, or in the organic section of the grocery store. Pair them with a whole grain bun, organic ketchup and sliced avocado to makes a great summer snack or meal for kids without any negative health consequences.