Dog Days of Summer

A healthy hot dog? It’s no oxymoron.

Hot dogs are as American as apple pie and the 4th of July. In fact, it’s tough to make it through a typical summer without biting into a juicy dog. But, some of these dogs bite back—in terms of their total fat, saturated fat, sodium and calories. A  typical beef or pork dog, like what you can get at Papaya King, can pack in nearly 200 calories, 15 grams of fat, half of which is artery–clogging sat fat and about one-quarter of the sodium you need in an entire day.

Check out poultry and vegetarian alternatives to traditional beef and pork dogs that can save you big time on fat and calories. Sodium savings? Not so much. That’s still an issue with hot dogs of any kind—beef, pork, poultry or veggie.

In the poultry dog category, calories can range from 100 to 140, fat from 7 to 12 grams, and sodium from 540 to 610 milligrams (similar to the sodium range you’ll find in regular dogs). The Best of Show for Poultry Dogs is the Empire Kosher Chicken Franks with 100 calories and a respectable 2 grams sat fat.

For a bigger fat and calorie dip, go veggie. These mostly soy-based dogs range from 45 to 80 calories each, 0 to 2.5 grams of fat. The Best of Show for Veggie Dogs is the vegetarian Lightlife Smart Dogs with just 45 calories per dog and 8 grams protein. When I put these in a bun and will my ketchup, relish and mustard, I’m as happy as if I was eating a world-famous, all-beef, NYC Papaya King dog!

As a general rule, the lower the fat, the less a poultry or vegetarian dog is going to mimic the real thing. Some vegetarian dogs are infused with flavor, such as Chipotle Tofurkey Franks, which may help them pass your personal taste test. You might want to give them a try, be sure to use a whole-grain bun and healthy condiments.

Hot Dog Calories Fat Sat Fat Protein Cholesterol Sodium
Papaya King Frank 170 15 6 8 35 510
Empire Kosher Chicken Franks 100 7 2 6 50 550
Empire Kosher Turkey Franks 100 8 2.5 6 45 540
Jennie-O Turkey Franks 120 9 2.5 7 45 610
Foster Farms Turkey Franks 140 12 n/a 7 25 560
Foster Farms Chicken Franks 140 12 n/a 7 30 550
Yves Tofu Dog 45 1 0 8 0 300
Yves Meatless Hot Dog 50 0.5 0 10 0 400
Lightlife Smart Dogs 45 0 0 8 0 310
Tofurkey Franks 80 2 0 11 0 390

–Densie Webb, Ph., RD, is a registered dietitian living in Austin, TX



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