It's not some big secret that processed foods aren't good for you. When you think about how humans evolved, bread and ground beef burgers weren't really on the menu.
Take a look at the photograph above. What do you think that is? As gross as it may seem, that's the processed version of a hot dog before it's made into links and pre-cooked for you. Yeah.
Okay, so whatever, it looks gross. Who cares, right? Well, you might want to care. It's not all about looks. That stuff you see above, which is an amalgam of chicken, beef, pork, and various low-grade animal parts, isn't healthy.
Hot dogs are loaded with additives like corn syrup, salt, MSG, and sodium carbonate. But what's the big deal, that stuff's all safe, right?
Unfortunately, no. Many of these additives aren't even listed on the packaging. You can't really be sure what actually is in your hot dogs.
Another preservative, called nitrates, are the main reason why hot dogs have been found to cause cancer. Nitrates, when they come into contact with amines, a natural compound found in meat, form nitrosamine compounds, which are known cancer-causers.
Nitrosamine has been tied to a variety of types of cancer, like oral, bladder, stomach, esophagus, and even brain cancer. There isn't a scientific consensus yet, but it is believed that nitrosamine might also cause pancreated and colorectal cancers as well.
So should we be afraid of nitrates? Not necessarily. They're found naturally in a lot of different foods, like leafy greens. They're not actually harmful. But when they come into contact with amines, that's a problem.
We're not saying meat is bad by any stretch. Meat is a useful source of protein for many! They also contain iron, zinc, and other minerals. But when feeding your family, choose whole cuts of meat, not processed, ground meats.