Here’s a fun fact for a holiday weekend that traditionally features backyard BBQs—eating a hot dog takes 35 minutes off your life!
That’s what researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health Sciences claims in their new nutritional index published in the Nature journal.
Let’s dive into this and see why they’ve made such shocking hot dog claims.
What Is In The Nutritional Index?
The U of M researchers recently put together a health nutritional index that includes their findings for more than 5,000 foods in the U.S. diet. The foods are classified by health burden and environmental impact, and the goal is to inform guidelines that will help Americans achieve healthier and more environmentally-stable diets.
The index ranks each food by how many minutes can be gained or lost in a healthy life when eating one serving of a specific food. The foods they studied ranged from 74 minutes lost to 80 minutes gained.
Hot Dogs Are Big Offenders
The index shows that sugary drinks, breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs were the worst offenders when it came to the amount of minutes lost from a healthy life.
On the flip side, the foods with the largest gains were fruits, non-starchy and mixed veggies, ready-to-eat cereals, and cooked grains.
The researchers found that consuming one 85-gram serving of chicken wings translated to 3.3 minutes of a healthy life lost, thanks to the high amounts of sodium and trans fatty acids. Eating one beef hot dog on a bun resulted in 35 minutes lost “largely due to the detrimental effect of processed meat.”
One of the foods associated with time gains was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, increasing a healthy life by 33 minutes. Salted peanuts, baked salmon, and rice with beans all had gains between 10 and 15 minutes.
Here’s The Good News
According to the researchers, their analysis indicates that small changes to your daily diet can have quite the impact on your health and the environment.
“We use the results to inform marginal dietary substitutions, which are realistic and feasible,” the authors wrote. “We find that small, targeted, food-level substitutions can achieve compelling nutritional benefits and environmental impact reductions.”
In other words, if you substitute just 10% of your daily caloric intake from beef and processed meats for fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and certain seafood, you could see some pretty amazing improvements. We’re talking 48 healthy minutes gained per day, and a 33% reduction in your dietary carbon footprint.
Is Joey Chestnut OK?
Obviously, with the news that eating one hot dog can take 35 minutes off of your life, our thoughts and prayers immediately went to Joey Chestnut, the 13-time champ of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.
He holds the world record for eating 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes, and Chestnut estimates he’s eaten more than 19,000 hot dogs over the past 16 years. By the study’s calculation, that means he’s lost one year and 15 minutes of his life.
“Interesting, I might need to eat more nuts to go back in time,” Chestnut tweeted.