Hot dogs are a popular type of fast food around the world, especially in the United States. We can’t deny that we’ve all been tempted by their delicious taste at some point in our lives. Despite their delicious taste and being easy to make, hot dogs can be really harmful to your health because they contain chemical additives in the processed meat, toppings and bun.
A tempting and easy to prepare meal, hot dogs have become a favorite food among children. The food industry knows that children are weak when it comes to choosing what they eat, and regardless of the damage it may cause them in the future, companies promote this food to make it almost irresistible to young ones.
While it’s true that eating a hot dog every once in a while won’t do major damage to the body, what worries experts is that more and more people are frequently including them in their diets, especially children.
What’s wrong with hot dogs?
Several studies have proven the dangers of frequently eating hot dogs and other processed meats like sausage. This is due to their high content of fats, sodium, purines, oils, refined flours, sugar and chemical compounds that can affect your health in the long term.
In an article published in the Los Angeles Times, an epidemiologist from the University of Southern California revealed that children who eat more than 12 hot dogs a month are 9 times more likely to develop leukemia. In his article, he also cited other studies that found that children, whose parents ate a diet that included hot dogs before they were born as well as those whose mothers ate a hot dog a week during pregnancy, were at a higher risk for developing brain tumors.
Why are hot dogs so bad for you?
On top of the aforementioned substances, studies have found that hot dogs contain a significant quantity of nitrites, which are used to preserve foods and keep them looking fresh. When hot dogs are cooked, the nitrites combine with the amine found in meat to form carcinogenic N-nitrous compounds. These compounds have been a subject of study and have been associated with a greater risk of liver, stomach, brain and esophageal cancers.
In children, this substance has been linked to a greater risk of childhood leukemia and brain tumors.
What other foods contain nitrites?
Vegetables, especially leafy greens, also contain nitrites in small amounts. However, this case is completely different as these types of foods reduce your risk of developing cancer. Why? It may seem contradictory at first, but the nitrites in these foods are not harmful because they don’t combine with amine to form the same N-nitrous compounds that are found in hot dogs. Vegetable nitrites are reinforced with vitamins D and C, which inhibit the formation of the harmful N-nitrous compounds. Vegetables are healthy, safe and great for any diet.
Remember, on the other hand, all processed meats contains carcinogenic nitrites, including some types of fish, hamburger and bacon.
What can you do about it?
- Not all hot dogs and sausages contain N-nitrous compounds. In fact, there are many different types of hot dogs and sausages on the market today that don’t contain these compounds and can be more safely consumed. To distinguish between the hot dogs you can eat and the ones that contain harmful compounds, remember that the ones that contain nitrites often have an attractive reddish color to make them look fresher. The ones that are safe to eat are often paler and less attractive.
- Eat less hot dogs, especially if your children are going to eat with you.
- Don’t eat hot dogs as a regular part of your diet. They should only be eaten occasionally, preferably in smaller portions.