This golf snack adds ’26 minutes’ to your life, according to new study

Living longer calls for less hot dogs, and more "green zone" foods.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

I played golf last week, and halfway through the round, our group made a pit-stop for some hot dogs, fresh off the grill. They were delicious and, given the way I played the back nine, arguably the highlight of the next two hours.

Most golfers love a good hot dog. Ian Woosnam loves them so much that he made an entire video about them.

But this week, some bad news on the hot dog front: A new study out from the University of Michigan has created a formula which explains why eating a single hot dog can take 39 minutes off your life.

The study itself comes with lots of caveats — one of the big ones being that it doesn’t literally take 39 minutes off your life. Instead, that number comes from the study’s attempt to quantify and rank 5,800 foods based on a variety of factors as a way of helping people make healthier eating choices.

“Generally, dietary recommendations lack specific and actionable direction to motivate people to change their behavior, and rarely do dietary recommendations address environmental impacts,” Katerina Stylianou, one of the study’s researchers, said.

Which leads us to the overlooked part of the study which was lost amid the juicy headlines about hot dogs: That there are 5,799 other foods evaluated as part of the study, which provides some genuinely helpful guidelines not for what we should eat less of. But rather, what to eat more of.

Life-saving foods

Nuts are a healthy snack that can help you live longer

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The study notes that generally speaking, “plant-based foods generally perform better” than animal-based foods, but not always. “Greenhouse-grown vegetables,” for instance, because of their impact on the environment and the amount they’re processed prevent them from being in the desired “green zone” of foods which the study recommends we all eat more of.

So, what foods live in the Green Zone? It consists of foods that “are both nutritionally beneficial and have low environmental impacts.”

The headliners:

  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Field-grown vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Low-environmental impact seafood

Plug those items into the same set of metrics that told us hot dogs cost us 38 minutes, the study says that substituting that hot dog for a serving of nuts could give us 26 minutes of “extra healthy life.”

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In all, if you were to substitute just “10 percent of your daily caloric intake from “beef and processed meats” for a mix of those foods in the green zone, and you’ll give yourself a whopping “48 minutes of healthy minutes per day.”

You can read the full study right here, and in the meantime, eat more green zone foods!

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.