Are hot dogs good for you — and which brands are the healthiest?

It’s hot dog season — not to mention time for the 2024 Nathan’s eating contest — and footlong fans might be wondering which brand is the healthiest, if any.

While no one is likely seeking out hot dogs for wellness benefits, they’re not wholly bad for you if consumed within reason, according to one expert.

“They are still a food that can be enjoyed on occasion,” Healthline Nutrition Editor Lisa Valente, MS, RD, told The Post. “Hot dogs are always going to be a food you want to eat only once in a while since they are a processed meat that’s relatively high in sodium and saturated fat.”

In other words, maybe don’t enter too many hot dog-eating competitions. (Sorry, Joey Chestnut.)

Hot dogs are likely on everyone’s grilling menu this afternoon as patriotic celebrations kick off nationwide. Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker

Hot dogs are a processed meat product, and Valente explained that processed meats have been linked to cancer — the World Health Organization classifies processed meats as a carcinogen.

“Outside of the type of hot dog used, think about what surrounds the hot dog on your plate. If you can trade up to a whole wheat bun, that will add some fiber,” Valente said.

“I think it’s just splitting hairs to worry too much about what you’re topping your hot dog with. Choose your favorite condiments, and pair your hot dog with some veggie sides to balance out your plate.”

Valente advised checking labels and comparing products when shopping for hot dogs at the grocery store — and especially keeping an eye out for brands that are lower in sodium and saturated fats.

As grillers prep charcoal for the Fourth of July holiday, here are some of the best franks to consider and how they size up against each other.

Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners Hot Dogs stood out among the competition. Getty Images
  • 110 calories
  • 10 grams of fat
  • 3 grams of saturated fat
  • 400 milligrams of sodium
  • 5 grams of protein

Oscar Mayer has plenty of options, but one stands out above the rest as the No. 1 scanned wiener in grocery stores, according to the online database Nutritionix: Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners Hot Dogs.

Their original product is made with chicken, turkey and pork and is on the lower side in a majority of categories.

Ball Park

Ball Park’s Lean Beef Franks are a healthier option to have on your grill this Fourth of July. Shutterstock / Billy F Blume Jr
  • 80 calories
  • 5 grams of total fat
  • 2 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 480 milligrams of sodium
  • 6 grams of protein

Ball Park is one of America’s top hot dog brands, but its Lean Beef Franks are its healthiest option.

Lean red meat is generally lower in saturated fat and does not raise total blood cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, meaning it won’t necessarily have a negative impact on cardiovascular health.

Nathan’s

Nathan’s has become one of the most well-known hot dog brands since its humble New York beginnings. Paul Martinka
  • 150 calories
  • 13 grams of total fat
  • 5 grams of saturated fat
  • 1 gram of trans fat
  • 500 milligrams of sodium
  • 5 grams of protein

While Nathan’s Famous Uncured All Natural Beef Franks are on the higher end of sodium levels compared to other brands, these franks are free of artificial preservatives, phosphates and nitrites — and they have lower sodium levels compared to Nathan’s regular dogs.

Hebrew National

Out of all the Hebrew National hot dogs, the 97% fat-free beef franks are a “favorite item with health-conscious consumers.” Gado via Getty Images

Hebrew National is often regarded as one of the most prestigious hot dog brands in the country, but how does it hold up nutritionally? Of course, there are a few options to choose from.

Hebrew National All Natural Beef Franks

  • 140 calories
  • 12 grams of total fat
  • 4.5 grams of saturated fat
  • 0.5 gram of trans fat
  • 430 milligrams of sodium
  • 6 grams of protein

Notably, the brand’s All Natural Uncured Beef Franks have virtually no trans fats, which are the worst of all fats in food. According to the American Heart Association, consuming too many trans fats increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Hebrew National 97% Fat-Free Beef Franks

  • 45 calories
  • 1 gram of total fat
  • 0.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 490 milligrams of sodium
  • 6 grams of protein

According to the Hebrew National site, the 97% fat-free beef franks are a “favorite item with health-conscious consumers.”

The low number of calories and amount of fats in these wieners make them a winner for any summer celebration.

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s argues that “hot dogs are notorious for containing questionable ingredients,” so the brand shuns them in their franks.
  • 100 calories
  • 10 grams of total fat
  • 4.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 400 milligrams of sodium
  • 6 grams of protein

Trader Joe’s Organic Uncured Grass Fed Beef Hot Dogs are made with only natural, organic ingredients, according to the brand — which otherwise declares that other “hot dogs are notorious for containing questionable ingredients” — and its product is free from unwanted preservatives, such as nitrates and nitrites.

Sabrett

  • 140 calories
  • 12 grams of total fat
  • 5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 360 milligrams of sodium
  • 6 grams of protein

Sabrett’s Skinless Beef Frankfurters aren’t uncured or organic — in fact, they’re the standard hot dogs at your favorite hot dog cart. Yet, they end up being on the healthier side of options.

These links have no trans fat and lower overall fat content than average — but their main selling point might be the lower levels of sodium, which otherwise can be detrimental to blood pressure.

With a wide variety of hot dogs to choose from this holiday, here’s how to pick the best kind for your health. Shutterstock / rblfmr

Applegate

Applegate, the nation’s leading natural and organic meat brand, has two sub-brands: Naturals and Organic. Naturally, there are healthy options under both subcategories.

Applegate Naturals

  • 100 calories
  • 8 grams of total fat
  • 3.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 480 milligrams of sodium
  • 7 grams of protein

The Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dog — made from 100% grass-fed beef — is one of the lowest in saturated fat; you won’t find many beef links at the store with less.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to lower the risk of heart disease and decrease cholesterol problems.

“Hot dogs are always going to be a food you want to eat only once in a while since they are a processed meat that’s relatively high in sodium and saturated fat,” said Valente. IMPOSSIBLE

Applegate Organics

  • 100 calories
  • 8 grams of total fat
  • 3.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 480 milligrams of sodium
  • 7 grams of protein

The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog from Applegate Organics is made with 100% grass-fed, pasture-made beef and is another low-calorie wiener from the brand.

Boar’s Head

  • 120 calories
  • 11 grams of total fat
  • 4.5 grams of saturated fat
  • 350 milligrams of sodium
  • 6 grams of protein

Boar’s Head Uncured Beef Frankfurters are a better option for salt-watchers to pick up at the deli counter as they’re relatively low in sodium.

Impossible

Impossible meats are vegan, meaning they do not contain any animal byproduct, despite how convincing they appear. Impossible Foods
  • 120 calories
  • 7 grams of total fat
  • 2.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 430 milligrams of sodium
  • 12 grams of protein

If they’re good enough for Joey Chestnut, they’re good enough for everyone.

The Impossible Beef Hot Dogs have no added nitrates or nitrites and are billed as containing “half the saturated fat of the animal version.”

Organic Valley

  • 130 calories
  • 11 grams of total fat
  • 4 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 380 milligrams of sodium
  • 7 grams of protein

Organic Valley’s Uncured Grass-Fed Beef Hot Dogs are organic, which is a great option to avoid antibiotics or growth hormones that can be detrimental to one’s health.

According to the product page, there are “absolutely NO antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything.”

Niman Ranch

Hot dogs from Niman Ranch contain neither MSG nor nitrates and nitrites, making them one of the healthier options.
  • 130 calories
  • 9 grams of total fat
  • 3.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 480 milligrams of sodium
  • 8 grams of protein

The Uncured Pork & Beef Franks from Niman Ranch are a “blend of Niman Ranch’s heritage pork and Angus beef,” according to the brand.

They contain no MSG and no added nitrates or nitrites — also making them one of the healthier options.

Lightlife

  • 100 calories
  • 3.5 grams of total fat
  • 0.5 grams of saturated fat
  • Zero trans fat
  • 620 milligrams of sodium
  • 14 grams of protein

The Jumbo Smart Dogs from plant-based food company Lightlife are predominantly made of soy protein and soy bean oil — so there’s no need to fret about potentially harmful nitrites or nitrates that come with meat-based franks.

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