When you open up a 6 pack of McDonalds Chicken Nuggets you would think that you are just getting a fried piece of chicken goodness right? I mean McDonalds even has those advertisements on TV stating that they are made with "100% white meat chicken breast". Well you would be wrong. You see they do have chicken breast, and they are fried, but McDonalds (and other fast food restaurants for that matter) add a whole lot of other ingredients to fill up that nugget, fill up your stomach, and fill up their pockets, and these ingredients can not only going to make you pile on the pounds, but they could be causing you some more serious health problems as well.
Growing up in the 80’s in a small town on the east coast of Australia, we didn’t always have access to big chain restaurants. The fish and chip shop around the corner, and the local Chinese take out who’s suspect "chicken special" always coincided with missing cats in the neighborhood, were all that was really available to us. But I will always remember the day we got our first McDonalds restaurant, and as soon as it opened I just had to have my birthday party there.
But because I was a picky eater, while all my friends were eating burgers, I could only eat the nuggets. But oh how I loved them. I would soak them in sweet and sour sauce, savor every bite, and if anyone asked me for a nugget I would give them the evil eye…like the one Dina Lohan gives her PC each morning when she hasn’t had a google alert….
But I grew up and McDonalds and other fast food restaurants became a distant memory as I now try to follow (emphasis on the word try) a healthier lifestyle. Following a plan of eating whole foods the majority of the time – yes I still have my cheat meals, and yes sometimes I slip up and will binge on an entire birthday cake in one sitting or make three trips to the pizza place after one too many drinks – the thought now of eating nuggets or other McDonald items for that matter, just doesn’t appeal to me. But I thought I would some research into my favorite little chicken past time and actually see what I used to eat…and what some of you may still be eating now.
If you do some searching you can actually find McDonalds nutritional information online where they give you the calorie content of each of their menu items. I mean none of it should be shocking anymore. If you order a quarter pounder with cheese and a large fries and soda you simply know you are overloading on bad fat and excess calories. But I searched a little further and actually found the ingredient list for all the items, including those crunchy nuggets. Lets take a look:
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil,
dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water,
enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking
soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in
vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an
The first ingredient is "white boneless chicken" – well one would hope so, I mean it’s a chicken nugget you are eating. But then it gets a little scary. There are an additional 38 or so ingredients. That’s right, over another 38 ingredients packed into that little nugget. Did you have some trouble pronouncing some of them? Don’t worry, most of us can’t, and thats exactly what McDonalds and other food manufactures are hoping for because if you actually knew what they were, you probably wouldn’t eat them. Lets take a look at just a few of the main culprits:
Modified Food Starch: This is cornstarch that has been chemically altered and added to the nugget to help glue everything together and as a bulking and filling agent to reduce the actual amount of chicken used in the nugget and consequently save McDonalds money. There has been no direct scientific research that states that this is bad for you, but if you ask me, I would rather not put a food that has been altered from it’s original state by chemicals into my body.
Autolyzed Yeast Extract: Is a substance that is formed when yeast is broken down into separate components and is a less expensive form of MSG. MSG is that nasty addictive stuff that keeps you coming back for more and has been reported to cause numerous health concerns such as severe allergies, cancer and heart disease.
Dextrose: Sugar…enough said.
Sodium Phosphates: Used in some products as a laxative, but is mainly used as a texturizer and emulsifier which stops all the nasty oils from separating within the nugget.
Bleached Wheat Flour: You have all heard me talk about white flour before. Its essentially flour that has been bleached… yes bleached, often by using the same chemicals you use to clean your bathroom and get your white’s so sparking white… to extend shelf life and stop pests and insects from eating it. If they won’t go near it, what does that say?
Sodium Aluminum Phosphate: Is a new product to the food industry that is used for leveling, and hasn’t been thoroughly tested. Although aluminum has been widely researched to cause Alzheimers and dementia. Oh, and sodium aluminum phosphate is also used in eye drops and pesticides…yum!
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: Now if you read my post a few months back about bad fats, then these three words when clumped together should ring some alarm bells for you. You see food manufacturers got together and said "How can we make our products last longer and save money", and they came up with hydrogenated oil. The oil is chemically altered and bleached to turn it into a solid to avoid it going rancid. The problem with this, well it turns out our body’s have a hard time digesting and using this chemically altered oil, so it causes weight gain as well other degenerative diseases. If you are buying any product, and are at all concerned about yours or your family’s health, you should avoid any product that contains hydrogenated or even worse partially hydrogenated (trans fat) oils.
TBHQ: Is probably the most alarming ingredient on here. It is a derivative of petroleum. That’s right the same stuff you put in your car to get you to work each morning, and it is sprayed on the nugget directly or into the box to preserve freshness. It is also a form of butane, does that word ring any bells? It is lighter fluid. They obviously don’t use very much of it, because a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill. So next time you are around the camp fire, and have no wood to burn, just throw in a few chicken nuggets from McDonalds and you will be warm and cosy for hours.
Dimethylpolysiloxane: Used as an "antifoaming agent" is a type of oil derived from silicon. It stops the McDonalds deep fryers from foaming up and boiling over. It’s also put in shampoos and used in the manufacturing of contact lenses. Makes you want to dive into a pack of nuggets right now doesn’t it?
Think you might be doing your self a favor and not eating the nuggets? Well all of these chemicals can also be found in their Chicken Selects, and the majority of them are used in the preparation of most of their meat based menu items.
Looking at the above ingredients you cannot be surprised to find out that each chicken nugget is only 44% chicken. Those nasty chemicals, cheap corn products, and salt make up the rest of it.
Don’t even get me started on the sauces either. The first ingredient in their sauce is high fructose corn syrup (yes more cheap corn products) which has been linked to obesity and diabetes.
Personally, if you care about your health, from a weight loss perspective, but also from a internal perspective…and external for that matter – don’t think those ingredients are doing any positive things for your skin and aging… and you are still eating at McDonalds I think you would be crazy. Sure the occasional nugget isn’t going to kill you, but I it isn’t going to be doing you any good either.