Save Hot Dogs for Special Occasions

July 21 is National Hot Dog Day. A dietician says it's okay to enjoy a hot dog every once in a while, but moderation is key.

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CLEVELAND – July 21 is National Hot Dog Day and if you enjoy this summertime staple – moderation is key.

However delicious hot dogs might be, it’s important to remember they’re processed meats, which aren’t healthy if eaten regularly.

“They can lead to elevated blood pressure values, blood cholesterol values, specifically bad levels of cholesterol,” said Julia Zumpano, RD, of Cleveland Clinic. “Some of the ingredients that are used to process and preserve the processed meats have not been very favorable from a cancer prevention standpoint either.”

Zumpano recommends we limit processed meats, including hot dogs.

She said hot dog alternatives may be a good way to offset regular consumption and adds that turkey dogs sometimes have less fat and sodium, while vegan options may contain less saturated fat.

Regardless of the product, she said it’s important to read the label to ensure it meets the criteria you’re looking for.

Overall, it’s best to save hot dogs for special occasions.

“Try not to include them on your grocery list. Try not to include it as a regular item being served for a meal but use it only for special occasions and do it in moderation,” Zumpano recommended. “If you can’t resist a hotdog at a baseball game, stick to just one and enjoy it. Same with a cookout.”

If you’re going to enjoy a hot dog, Zumpano suggests going easy on the condiments, which are often loaded with salt and sugar. And if you need a bun, whole wheat is the way to go.

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