With locations in 22 states and 14 countries abroad, Nathan’s is arguably the most famous hotdog in the world. According to its company history, it was founded in 1916 by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker with a $300 loan and his wife’s secret recipe. From these humble beginnings, it has gone on to grace the dining tables of presidents, royalty, and, probably, you.
While that is all well and good, it is no secret that hotdogs are not the healthiest food you can eat. In fact, The Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine recently published an article linking hotdogs with cardiovascular disease and other health risks. Surprisingly, they even noted the influence of Nathan’s Contest in their write-up.
Nathan’s lists 37 different hotdog offerings on its menu and while we all have to agree that few, if any, processed meat products are healthy, as with most things, there are different degrees of risk. Our question is if you just can’t resist that beefy goodness, which Nathan’s dog presents the most threat to your health?
Several ingredients commonly found in hotdogs make them less than ideal for a healthy diet. An article in Time reports that the average hotdog contains “204 calories and 18 g of total fat and 620 g of sodium,” and this is before adding condiments like chili, cheese, and mustard. Of particular interest is a cited 2015 study that found ties between red-meat consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
To a great extent, you can attribute the health risks associated with hotdog consumption to the high nitrate content (via CDC). And WebMD reports that the average hotdog contains “50 mcg of nitrates per 100 g of meat, which carries about 9 mg of nitrites.” According to the USDA Branded Food Products Database, Nathan’s Hotdogs do not contain any nitrites, however, the company’s packaging does list Sodium Nitrate as an ingredient.
Even though we are aware of the risks, we can’t help but wonder why we just can’t stray from these pigs in blankets. Sure they are delicious but are they worth the possible costs? These are just a few of the things you should know about hotdogs.
It can be challenging to say which of the many dishes at Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs comes in as the single one to be avoided at all costs. To a great extent which is worst will depend on your personal health concerns and lifestyle, but we do have a clear contender for the title.
Looking at the data provided on the Nathan’s Famous website, we find that in terms of sodium content, the 10-inch version of Nathan’s Famous Skinless Tex-Mex Dog is about as bad as it gets. It contains a whopping 2,820 mg of sodium. For good measure, it packs in 95 mg of cholesterol, making it the artery-clogging champ of the lineup.
This same hotdog also runs a close second in terms of fat content and total calories. It brings 50 grams of total fat and 19 grams of saturated fat to the table and supplies a whopping 770 calories. In both categories, we can only consider it marginally healthier than the 15-piece nugget pack.
While the Tex-Mex might be the worst of the lot, its menu mates can hardly be considered healthy alternatives. If we look closely at all the data presented, the wisest choice might be looking for a healthier hotdog alternative at your local market.