Hot Dog Nutrition Facts

Calories and Carbs of Hot Dogs

hot dog nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

You can find hot dogs almost anywhere, served up on a bun with ketchup, mustard, or sauerkraut. They are easy to cook and relatively inexpensive. Hot dogs aren't generally considered to be healthy foods because they are heavily processed and often high in fat and sodium.

Although you may not want to make a habit of eating them regularly, there are delicious ways to enjoy your dogs without ruining your diet. Keep the calorie count under control by serving one hot dog and adding a healthy side dish, such as a salad, veggies, or beans.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one hot dog and bun without condiments .

  • Calories: 290
  • Fat: 23g
  • Sodium: 810mg
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 4g
  • Protein: 9g

Health Benefits 

A typical hot dog is energy-dense, considering the size of the sausage, with about 150 calories and 13 grams of fat. Many people purchase hot dogs in circumstances which require them to be outside the house, engaging in some sort of physical activity such as a stroll in the park. After heavy exercise, they may benefit from the quick energy provided by the hot dog's carbohydrates.

You'll probably eat your dog on a regular white refined flour hot dog bun, which adds about 120 calories and just a little bit of fiber and B vitamins. Nutritionally, this isn't great, but if you're a picky eater and having trouble keeping those calories down, a hot dog may be an easy way to take in some quick calories.

Common Questions About Hot Dogs

What are nitrates and why are they bad? Sodium nitrate is a preservative often used in cured meats including lunch meats, sausages, hot dogs, and bacon. Your body can convert nitrates into nitrites and then into N-nitroso compounds, which have been associated with certain forms of cancer under certain conditions.

So do hot dogs cause cancer? Eating the occasional hot dog is safe and won't raise your risk of cancer or other health problems. If you look at the ingredients list you may see ascorbic acid (the technical term for vitamin C) along with sodium nitrate. Vitamin C may mitigate the carcinogenic effects of nitrates. You can also look for brands that don't use nitrates in their products.  

A 2017 review found a link between eating cured meats and having a slightly increased risk of thyroid and brain tumors called gliomas. On the other hand, eating cured meats may be related to a decreased risk of stomach cancer. 

What's the difference between a hot dog and a sausage? All hot dogs are sausages, but not all sausages are hot dogs. Other types of sausages include bratwurst, Polish sausage, summer sausage, bologna, breakfast sausage, pepperoni, and much more. Bratwurst and Polish sausages are similar to hot dogs in that you usually eat them on large hot dog buns.

Why are hot dogs sold in packs of ten when hot dog buns are sold in packs of eight? There may not be a good answer for that.

Recipes and Preparation Tips 

If you're looking for some healthier ways to eat hot dogs, try some of these ideas: 

  • Wrap your dog in a crescent roll. Crescent Hot Dogs are easy to make and a little more exciting than a typical hot dog—just limit yourself to one. Each dog is still higher in fat and sodium but is also a source of protein, calcium, and iron. Serve it with a green salad and water or a big glass of ice tea and you'll have a tasty meal without too many calories.
  • Use a whole grain bun and top with veggies. Swap out your plain white refined hot dog bun with an artisan whole grain roll, then dress up your dog with lots of veggies. That way you'll add nutrients, antioxidants, and volume to your hot dog without adding many calories. Add guacamole and hot peppers for a tasty kick.
  • Try a veggie dog or a low-fat dog. Good veggie dogs used to be hard to find, but now most grocery stores carry several brands so you should be able to find a veggie dog that appeals to you. Veggie dogs are lower in fat and calories than regular hot dogs, but you can cook and serve them just like you would a regular hot dog.

Be on the lookout for low-fat hot dogs made with turkey or chicken instead of beef and pork. Read the labels so you can compare calorie counts, sodium content, and total fat.

Allergies and Interactions 

Some people are allergic to the annatto seed, which is sometimes used as a natural food dye in hot dogs. Other people have bad reactions to nitrates or other additives. Still others may be lactose-intolerant or have a dairy allergy and react badly to common toppings which include dairy. Make sure to ask about how your hot dogs were processed if you have any of these conditions. 

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