Ask Food: Hamburger vs. hot dog

Q: Which is healthier, a hot dog or a hamburger?

A: There are pros and cons to both favorites.

Burger

Pros:

Burgers aren't about ground beef anymore. Although you can make a killer burger from 90 percent to 95 percent lean ground beef, burger alternatives like turkey, bison, ostrich and fish are delicious, too. These leaner choices provide tons of protein, iron and energy boosting B-vitamins.

Cons:

It's easy to rack up the calories with huge burger patties, lots of cheese and other fatty toppings, mayo and other calorie-laden condiments and huge buns.

Healthy-Burger Tips:

Opt for leaner meats like 90 percent to 95 percent lean ground beef, bison or turkey breast. If lighter options aren't available, then mind your portions (aim for 3- to 4-ounce patties).

Pile burger high with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions, to name a few.

Choose high-fat toppers like cheese, mayo, avocado and fried onions sparingly.

Hot Dog

Pros:

The calories aren't out of control -- a regular-sized (1.6-ounce) hot dog with a touch of ketchup and mustard and a bun only has a few hundred calories.

Cons:

These bad boys are highly processed and most brands contain nitrates. Most folks don't stop at just one -- they eat two or three hot dogs at one sitting -- not to mention the mayonnaise-laden sides and barbecue goodies that get gobbled up, too.

Healthy-Hot-Dog Tips:

A variety of hot dogs are available, such as nitrate-free or reduced-fat. If you need a second dog, hold back on the bun or the mayonnaise-filled side salads.

Courtesy Toby Amidor on foodnetwork.com

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