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Hot dogs are delicious, easy-to-prepare, and crowd-pleasing. But are they healthy? The truth is, it depends.

Factors such as the sodium content of hot dogs, the meat they were made from, and the curing process they went through impact how healthy these sausages are. Keep reading to learn about uncured hot dogs as well as what to look for in a healthy hot dog.

What Are Uncured Hot Dogs?

Curing is a process used to preserve meats, including hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and bratwurst. This step also adds flavor and preserves or improves texture.

While you may see the terms “cured” and “uncured” on hot dog packages, both of these types of hot dogs are cured. The difference between these two labels is the types of ingredients used to cure hot dogs.

Row of hot dogs topped with mustard and relish on a wooden board

Cured hot dogs are typically preserved using added nitrites or nitrates. If you look at a hot dog label and see the ingredients sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate listed, the hot dog was cured using synthetic chemicals. These ingredients help maintain the hot dog’s color and juicy texture while also preventing it from spoiling.

Uncured hot dogs are still cured, but the curing process involves natural rather than artificial ingredients. Companies like Coleman Natural use cultured celery powder and sea salt to cure their hot dogs rather than synthetic nitrites and nitrates. These ingredients still preserve the sausage’s flavor and texture but keep the product natural.

Are Uncured Hot Dogs Healthier than Cured Hot Dogs?

As mentioned above, the big difference between cured and uncured hot dogs is the ingredients used during the curing process. Uncured hot dogs are cured using natural ingredients that contain nitrates, while cured hot dogs are often processed using added nitrites or nitrates.

So, what’s the difference between a nitrate and a nitrite besides a single letter? Chemically speaking, nitrates consist of a nitrogen atom bonded to three oxygen atoms, while nitrites contain a nitrogen atom bonded to two oxygen atoms.

Nitrates naturally occur in foods, including leafy green vegetables, beetroots, and turnips. Most scientists agree that naturally-occuring nitrates do not present great harm to the human body and can even help improve some disorders and improve balance in the body.

Silver plate with chips and a hot dog

The trouble is that nitrates are easily converted into nitrites once they make contact with saliva. And when nitrites continue throughout the body, they can react with acidic stomach acid and proteins to form substances known as nitrosamines. Some nitrosamines are known carcinogens and have been labeled as a risk factor in the development of tumors in the esophagus and stomach.

If you’d like to be on the safe side, consider consuming products cured with natural rather than synthetic ingredients. Uncured hot dogs contain only natural ingredients, which may be a safer alternative to synthetic nitrates and nitrites.

Other Elements Impacting Whether a Hot Dog Is Healthy

While curing agents are one aspect that impacts a hot dog’s health, you should consider other elements when you’re trying to answer the question, “are hot dogs healthy?” Make sure to read the product label to note the ingredients present as well as those that are missing.

You should also consider how the hot dog was made. Hot dogs often have a reputation of being made from leftover meat scraps, and sometimes this is true. The USDA allows products labeled hot dogs to contain up to 20% mechanically separated pork and as much mechanically separated poultry as the producer wants. However, Coleman Natural hot dogs only contain natural beef trimmings.

Hot dogs can also contain numerous types of artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives. Some hot dogs contain high-fructose corn syrup, while others contain honey or pure cane sugar. Hot dogs can also contain up to 3.5% non-meat binders such as cornstarch and dry milk powder. If you’d like to skip these ingredients and focus on the meat, look no further than Coleman Natural hot dogs.

A final element to look at is sodium. While no hot dog is considered a “low-sodium” food, the sodium content can drastically vary between hot dog brands. A Coleman Natural hot dog contains 260 milligrams of sodium, while other brands contain up to 770 milligrams! Even when you account for the hot dogs’ varying weights, the Coleman Natural hot dog is still lower in sodium.

Start with Delicious and Trusted Hot Dogs

When you pick up hot dogs for you or your family, you have dozens of different options to choose from, including cured and uncured hot dogs. If you’d like to stick with products made from high-quality meat and no artificial ingredients, choose Coleman Natural all-beef hot dogs.

Not only do our hot dogs contain natural ingredients, but they are also made from animals raised by American family farmers. Natural is more than just a label to these farmers – it’s a way of life. That means they never give their animals added hormones or antibiotics, and they raise their animals in a way that allows them to express their natural behaviors.

So join the Coleman Natural family and choose natural hot dogs you can both enjoy and trust. If you need a bit of inspiration for your next meal, check out our recipes for Hot Dog Fried Rice and Banh Mi Hot Dog.

To learn more about meat products, read these next:

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