Healthy Snack Swaps for July 4th - and All Summer Long

When the fourth of July rolls around each summer, BBQ ingredients and red-white-and-blue desserts can start to pop up all around us. At the grocery store, at work, and especially during summer cook-outs, the 4th of July party food ideas aren’t always the healthiest. We’ve made a handy chart so you and your family and friends can make easy, healthy swaps when it comes to summer BBQs and 4th of July recipes.

Trade Hot Dogs for Turkey Dogs

Frankly, hot dogs are pretty bad for you. Check the label the next time you go to purchase some. The typical pork hot dog with a bun, ketchup and mustard has 919mg of salt. The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 5 grams of sodium per day. Doctors are also concerned about the nitrates found in hot dogs, which are linked to cancer.  Studies have found that eating hot dogs increases our risks for developing health issues like:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Higher mortality

If that’s not enough motivation to give up hot dogs, we recommend giving turkey dogs a try. Though still relatively high, turkey dogs have around half the amount of sodium as regular hot dogs. They also have about the quarter the fat content, and no risk of consuming nitrates.

Opt for Water over Soda

Soda is harmful to our teeth for a variety of reasons. It contains lots of sugar. American Heart Association recommends men don’t exceed 150 calories from sugar a day and 100 calories from sugar for women. One 12-ounce can of a popular soda brand has 120.

By choosing water over soda, you’re not only saving your overall health, you’re saving your oral health. The cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths love to eat sugar. The more we give them, the more acid those bacteria excrete onto our teeth. That acid causes cavities and tooth decay. Try to limit consumption to one soda a day and rinse with water after. Do it for your teeth!

Why Take Corn Off the Cob?

If you’ve had any dental work done, corn on the cob is not your friend. And if you have braces, you definitely don’t want to be eating corn off the cob. You could risk ripping your braces away from your teeth. Biting down on the corn cob can crack fillings and sealants, damage orthodontia, and compromise dentures. Even if your teeth aren’t at risk, we bet one or more of your guests may be. Slice the corn off the cob and save everyone a trip to the dentist or orthodontist.

A Healthier Potato Salad

Traditional potato salad recipes can have as many as 360 calories and over 20 grams of fat in one cup. Swap mayo for plain Greek yogurt and a dash of olive oil for a creamy texture everyone will love. Plus, no one will miss those calories you cut out.

Hidden Sugar in Baked Beans

We don’t usually think of baked beans as an unhealthy 4th of July staple. But, they can be packed with added sugar and sodium we’re not reading the can’s label. Half a cup of traditional backed beans can have around 15 grams of sugar including high-fructose corn syrup, as well as pure fat for flavor. Make homemade baked beans a healthier way. Use no-salt-added tomato sauce and leave out that half-pound of bacon or salt pork. Use pinto or cannellini beans, Dijon mustard, maple syrup for sweetness, and your favorite seasonings. This can cut down the sodium by 40 percent.