Few dishes exude childhood comfort like a plate of fresh-outta-the-oven chicken nuggets. Their juiciness and tender-crisp texture are irresistible to even picky eaters.
Unfortunately, though, the nuggets that kids go wild for aren’t all that healthy. They’re made with a surprisingly high amount of fat, blood vessels and nerves — all of which aren’t usually found in the meat of real chicken.
In fact, one researcher says that only 50% of what’s in chicken nuggets is actually muscle tissue. The rest is a mysterious mix of fat, blood vessels, nerves and ground bone.
The study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, was conducted by Richard deShazo, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He and his colleagues studied randomly picked chicken nuggets from popular food chains and found that they’re mostly fat.
They’re also loaded with salt and preservatives. The most common are tBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) and dimethylpolysiloxane, which are used to keep the breading from sticking together.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find better-for-you options. We’ve rounded up five brands of nuggets that are a step in the right direction toward healthier bites. You’ll also find tips and advice to help you choose the best brands for your family. With just a little bit of research and a few simple substitutions, you can make sure that your kids are eating wholesome foods without the excess fat and sodium they’re getting from fast food nuggets.