What’s Actually in a Nugget?

Chicken Nuggets

Laura Schocker, writing for the Huffington Post, dove head-first into the infamous question: what’s really in a chicken nugget? According to the findings of some recent studies, you may think again as to whether a meal of nuggets is really worth the affordability.

The American Journal of Medicine published a paper last month that analyzed two different nuggets from two different, unidentified, national fast food chains. Each nugget was found to be comprised of just 50 percent or less muscle tissue, while the rest contained a grimy concoction of fat, blood vessels, pieces of bone, nerves, and cartilage. According to Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, “It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice.”

If chicken nuggets were really made from the healthier, low-fat, lean muscle of the bird, then they’d be much more expensive to produce and therefore much more expensive for consumers to buy. This artificial mixture that is only part chicken and part chicken-parts, concealed inside breading, is cheaper and also less nutritious. David Katz, M.D., founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center said that nuggets are not necessarily harmful for your health, but certainly don’t add to it.

According to Richard Prayson, M.D., section head of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Anatomic Pathology stated that “things like blood vessels are usually not the problem. Clinical additives and preservatives are potentially the issue.” Based on deShazo’s paper, there are 20 to 30 mystery ingredients that are also found in products no one would ever think of consuming. According to Schocker, such ingredients included dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent also used in Silly Putty,” and propylene glycol, also found in antifreeze.

The Food and Drug Administration classifies these ingredients as generally safe, while Katz explained this simply means that they have not been proven to be harmful, yet. Katz also explained that one should not be fooled by the term “natural ingredients,” as a natural ingredient, like lard, can still be harmful to your health. If in any way the list of ingredients seems vague or even possible questionable, wait until such ingredients have been proved as healthy or non-harmful before consuming them yourself.

Chicken nuggets are not the only fast food item you can purchase that has questionable ingredients. Schocker found that a study published in 2008 in the Annals of Diagnostic Pathology discovered that fast food hamburgers and hot dogs often contain less than 20 percent meat. The bottom line here is that while fast food is cheap, it’s cheap for a reason, and is most often harmful to your health. Stick to eating what you know is a natural, healthy food choice. Instead of a hamburger, make a salad at home. 


Make sure to consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for all health related advice.

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