Haven't you always wanted to know what was in a chicken nugget? Obviously, there is not a "nugget" on a chicken, so what exactly are these little pieces of chicken, primarily targeted to kids, made of?
Mississippi researchers recently found out the answer to this question. They went to several different fast food restaurants in Jackson, and selected one nugget from each place to examine. The results may disturb you.
The first nugget consisted of 50 percent muscle (the meat that you want to eat), and the rest was a mixture of fat, blood vessels and nerves. The second nugget was approximately 40 percent muscle, with the other 60 percent being fat, cartilage and pieces of bone. So, yes nuggets are made of chicken, but is it the parts of the chicken that you want to eat?
"We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it," said Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. "What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken," deShazo continued.
So what is deShazo's definition of a nugget? "It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them."
Ashley Peterson, the vice president of scientific affairs for the National Chicken Council (NCC) argues the researcher's findings, saying that chicken nuggets are actually good for children, and adults, to eat.
"Chicken nuggets are an excellent source of protein, especially for kids who might be picky eaters," Peterson said. "This study evaluates only two chicken nugget samples out of the billions of chicken nuggets that are made every year. A sample size of two nuggets is simply too small to generalize to an entire category of food."
Peterson continues her argument by saying, "Chicken nuggets tend to have an elevated fat content because they are breaded and fried. But it's no secret what is in a chicken nugget - most quick service restaurants have nutritional information posted in the store or on their website. And every package of chicken nuggets in the grocery store by law contains an ingredient list and a complete nutritional profile, including fat content."
deShazo said that the intention of their research was not to expose the chicken industry or fast food restaurants, but to encourage people to take more time to "understand basic nutritional facts".
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