Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Make a Healthier Hot Dog - Raw Sauerkraut and Other Ideas

Low fat, vegan, non-GMO tofu hot dogs with zero cholesterol.

Uncured chicken hot dogs without nitrites.

High fiber, organic, sprouted hot dog buns.

Raw, unpasteurized, probiotic-rich sauerkraut.

Muir Glen organic ketchup without high fructose corn syrup.

Is "Healthy Hot Dog" an Oxymoron?
It doesn’t have to be. Just because you prefer healthy food or became a vegan or vegetarian, doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy eating a healthy version of one of America’s favorite foods. Don’t get me wrong, hot dogs can be very unhealthy. Often filled with “mystery meat”, they are generally full of nitrites, salt and fat and placed on a white bun with zero fiber and little or no nutritional content.

Here are 10 Ways to Make a Healthier Hot Dog

First, the Dog:
#1 Avoid hot dogs containing nitrites. Used as preservatives, sodium nitrite (or nitrate) can be converted into the carcinogenic chemicals called nitrosamines. These have been associated with various cancers. The healthier hot dogs will specifically say, “UNCURED, NO NITRITES”.
#2 Avoid red meat. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting the consumption of red meat to 18 ounces per week. Today there is a wide selection of tasty hot dogs made from non-GMO tofu, chicken and turkey.
# 3 Watch the sodium content. The RDA for sodium is 2,400 mg per day and people at risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, should limit their consumption to 1,500 mg per day, according to the CDC.
#4 Select one low in fat, especially saturated fat. Just because a hot dog is made from chicken or turkey, don’t assume it’s low in fat. Some of them are just as high in fat as their beef and pork counterparts so it’s best to read the label. Try to select one with 2 or less grams of saturated fat. Some tofu hot dogs are extremely low in fat and contain zero cholesterol.

Then, the Bun:
#5 Choose whole grains over processed white bread. The fiber content is key. Although some tout “whole grain”, they are mostly made from white flour. Try to find one that has at least 2 to 3 grams of fiber per bun. Sprouted wheat is the best choice as it is made from “germinated” wheat.
#6 Avoid high fructose corn syrup. Although the amount of HFCS in a bun wouldn’t cause much harm, I personally do not support an industry that has contributed so greatly to the obesity epidemic in this country.
#7 Avoid trans fats. Most baking companies have removed trans fats from their products but you should check the ingredients for partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fats have been associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Finally, the topping:
#8 Try raw sauerkraut, rich in probiotics. I’m very happy to see “unpasteurized, raw sauerkraut” in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods and other health food stores. Get all the benefits of cabbage (a cruciferous vegetable that is known to protect us from various cancers), while obtaining healthful probiotics (beneficial bacterium found in our intestinal tracts). Look for brands with lower sodium content. You could even try making your own with a simple sauerkraut maker .
#9 Opt for mustard or organic ketchup over high fat, high cholesterol mayonnaise. Beware, some ketchups are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.
#10 Or top the hot dog with low fat, vegetarian bean chili. This heart healthy topping is known to help control blood sugar and lower cholesterol due to its high content of soluble fiber.

So go enjoy a nice tofu or low-fat, uncured chicken hot dog on an organic sprouted wheat bun with raw sauerkraut and spicy mustard or vegetarian chili WITHOUT the guilt! Just don't ask for one like this at a baseball game - you will surely be escorted out.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

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Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Sure Charlie.