The chicken nugget challenge
If you think chicken nuggets make a healthful meal for your kids, you might want to think again.
In a report released Tuesday, Consumer Reports analyzes 14 brands of nuggets -- including two soy-based varieties -- for taste, nutrition content and price. Not surprisingly, none earned high marks for nutrition.
Two panels -- one that included trained adult testers, the other 31 youngsters aged 6 to 17 -- weighed in on nuggets' merits. They agreed that Target's Market Pantry brand, Bell & Evans Breaded nuggets and Costco's Kirkland Signature Disney (shaped like Mickey Mouse heads) tasted best, while the Boca Original meatless Chik'n and Morningstar Farms Chik'n (what's with this "chik'n" business?) failed to please palates. Same for the brand that ranked highest for nutritional value: Health is Wealth brand had less fat and sodium than the others, but nobody liked the way those chicken chunks tasted.
The key nutrients of concern in chicken nuggets are sodium (of which Redi Serve Nibblers and MorningStar Farms soy nuggets each had 600 mg), fat (Barber Foods Breaded Original brand topped the list at 21 grams per serving) and fiber (most brands had zero to 2 grams). In general, the products tested had lots of the first two and little of the last. Even Purdue Baked brand's "whole grain breading" made for just 1 gram of fiber per serving. The soy-based brands had 3 or 4 grams of fiber per serving, but wouldn't you rather just eat hay?
Consumer Reports urges chicken nugget consumers to read package labels carefully, especially to pin down the serving size that's reflected in the Nutrition Facts numbers. And, CR cautions, be wary of claims such as "Whole Grain," "Organic," and "100% All Natural," none of which panned out in the products surveyed.
Does this mean you should never feed your kids another nugget? Of course not. Just do so infrequently and with eyes wide open, and make sure there's other, more healthful stuff on the plate too. Fruit or vegetables, low-fat dairy or something that's really and truly made with whole grains could turn those nuggets into a much happier meal.
Here's today's poll:
Jennifer LaRue Huget
May 6, 2010; 7:42 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness
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