It’s time to fire up the grill! Hotdogs are a summer favourite, but they’re often filled with sodium, additives and fat. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by registered dietitian Doug Cook. They take a look at five popular hotdog brands to find out which is the healthiest and tastiest option.
But is there such a thing as a hotdog that is actually good for us?
“The answer would be a qualified ‘yes,'" Doug says. "You really want to take into consideration three main things: Calories, sodium and whether or not there’s trans fats."
Sodium nitrates and nitrites are another thing to watch out for when choosing your go-to hotdog brand -- but Doug says they're not actually as bad as they're made out to be.
“Sodium nitrates and nitrites were introduced as a way to preserve food,” says Doug. “The most current research suggests they’re not as bad as we once thought. Nitrates are found abundantly in food supply and they’re found abundantly in our own bodies. Our bodies produce far more nitrates than you could ever find in food.”
Let's get on to the taste test!
PC Original Hot Dog Wieners
Doug immediately notices the smoky taste of this hotdog. “It tastes like ham,” he comments.
“Smoked ham,” Andrea agrees.
But other than the smoky taste, this dog doesn't do much for the taste testers.
Also see: The Perfect Bite: Which is healthier: butter or margarine?
Butterball Turkey Franks (Andrea’s favourite, second least healthy option)
“This one feels like a real hotdog,” Andrea says as soon as she takes a bite. It’s got some substance.”
Andrea and Doug both thought the Butterball Turkey Franks and the Maple Leaf Top Dogs had the best taste – but this one took it the extra mile for Andrea.
“You can really, really taste the hotdog and bun,” she says.
But unfortunately for Andrea, her favourite hotdog wasn’t very healthy. “That was number two in terms of the worst ones,” Doug explains.
It’s a common misconception that turkey dogs are healthier than hotdogs made with red meat, but that’s not the case.
“This one actually has the most sodium with about 500 milligrams of salt per hotdog,” Doug says.
Also see: The Perfect Bite: Which breakfast cereal is the healthiest and best-tasting?
Maple Leaf Top Dogs Less Salt Wiener (Doug’s favourite, least healthy option)
“I actually like this one,” says Doug. “It’s got a good flavour for sure.”
“This is more like a beef hotdog,” Andrea comments.
Doug was surprised when he found out the hotdog he enjoyed the most was this Maple Leaf dog – because it’s the least healthy of the bunch.
While this dog has around 200 mg of sodium per serving, Doug says it’s packed with artificial flavours and preservatives, which makes it unhealthy.
No Name All Beef Hot Dog
Andrea comments that this hotdog tastes like a veggie dog, and that to her, it tastes like the saltiest option. Doug agrees on the salty flavour.
But surprisingly, despite the taste, this wasn't the dog with the most sodium.
Also see: The Perfect Bite: Which coffee chain has the best brew?
Schneider’s Country Naturals Wiener (Healthiest option)
“This also has a different taste and a lot of salt,” comments Andrea.
“But it’s mild,” adds Doug.
Doug rates this as the best hotdog nutrition-wise, even though neither him nor Andrea was blown away by its taste.
“It does have more salt than the Maple Leaf,” Doug explains. “But I think that’s to make up for the fact that the Maple Leaf and the Turkey Franks have got a lot more preservatives and artificial flavours.”
A hotdog with a bun and traditional condiments (ketchup, mustard and relish) can add up to about 1,000 mg of sodium. Doug recommends making some healthier additions and switch-ups, like low-fat cheese and vegetables.
Which hotdogs will be your go-to when you’re grilling this summer? And what do you top them off with? Let us know and you could be featured in an upcoming blog post.