Report

46 Best and Worst Chicken Nuggets in America

Inside your kid's favorite bread-coated protein ball is a chemistry set. But that's changing.

Report

46 Best and Worst Chicken Nuggets in America

Inside your kid's favorite bread-coated protein ball is a chemistry set. But that's changing.

McDonald's recently announced it's testing a cleaner recipe for their Chicken McNuggets in Southwest Washington and Oregon, free of artificial flavors and preservatives. Goodbye monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate and sodium acid pyrophosphate. Hello, unadulterated chicken.

“These new Chicken McNuggets are made with a simpler recipe that parents can feel good about while keeping the same great taste they know and love,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman told Crain's. “More than ever customers care about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.”

That’s why the researchers at Eat This, Not That! decided to decode the DNA of some of the most popular varieties out there, with a primary focus on frozen and fast food. The next time you’re in need of a fast protein fix, you’ll know which chicken nugget to check out, and which to avoid. And for a comprehensive look at what to order at MickeyD's—including their all-day breakfast—don't miss this essential report: Every Menu Item at McDonald's—Ranked!

Category 1: Best & Worst Frozen Nuggets

Best and worst frozen nuggets

You can dig up nuggets of information, gather nuggets of wisdom, even pan for nuggets of gold. But good luck finding a nugget of chicken.

Most of what you’ll find in the grocery stores are actually nuggets of bread, preservatives and flavorings, with shredded, crushed and extruded bits of poultry mixed in, ruining any chance of quick weight loss. Indeed, the ingredients lists on most nuggets can read like a toxicology report: methylcellulose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, dimethylpolysiloxane—what the what?

After examining the nutritional profiles of each nugget, we ordered them by calories, fat and sodium per gram, to keep the nutritionals relatively equal between brands. Read on to discover when to reach for the nuggets—and when to say fuggit. Find out your best frozen options below—and which ones to pass up. And for some ETNT-approved frozen options, don’t miss these 15 New Healthy Frozen Foods that Make Clean Eating a Breeze!

FIRST…THE WORST


10

Midamar Halal Chicken Breast Nuggets

Midamar Halal Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 85 g): 230 calories, 14 g (3.5 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.71, 0.16, 5.06

Ingredients We Don't Love: Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Soybean Oil, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate

Food that’s “Certified Halal” is usually held to a high standard that most processed food companies should (but don’t) abide by. It means these nuggets don’t contain any blood, lard, or meat from chickens that had been sick or dying before slaughter. But it’s not all good news: this product contains sodium aluminum phosphate. Even though this substance is used for the seemingly innocuous use of leavening, the aluminum found in it is a metal that researchers have linked to Alzheimer’s disease incidence, according to a study in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

9

Tyson Chicken Nuggets

Tyson Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (5 pc, 90 g): 270 calories, 17 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.00, 0.19, 5.22

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken,” natural flavor, extractives of paprika

You’d think that having “chicken” listed as the first ingredient of your frozen chicken nuggets is a good thing, but you’d be wrong. When your nuggets contain unspecified chicken, it likely means your meat isn’t a tender, full piece chicken breast, rather, it can come from anywhere on the bird—yes, anywhere. For more on nasty additives or products that can end up on your plate, check out 40 Most Horrifying Things Found in Food.

8

Banquet Original Chicken Nuggets

Banquet Original Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (6 pc, 85 g): 250 calories, 15 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 440 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 10 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.94, 0.18, 5.18

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken,” dextrose, soybean oil, sugar, yeast extract (MSG), modified food starch, guar gum, textured soy flour, soy protein isolate, sodium tripolyphosphate, autolyzed yeast extract (MSG), BHT.

Don’t throw these nuggets on your plate at your next banquet. The little chicken patties contain three forms of MSG and sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), a chemical that is used to preserve foods as well as to keep pigments in paint evenly dispersed and as a tanning agent for leather. And even though the FDA considers it generally recognized as safe, STPP is a registered pesticide and listed as an air contaminant under California’s Occupational and Safety Healthy act because STPP is toxic to the lungs with prolonged exposure. Yum?

7

Perdue Dinosaur Fun Shapes Chicken Breast Nuggets

Perdue Fun Shapes Chicken Breast Nuggets Dinosaur Shapes

Nutrition (4 pc, 76 g): 200 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.63, 0.17, 5.66

Ingredients We Don't Love: bleached wheat flour, enriched wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), potassium lactate, sodium lactate, dextrose, sugar, dried whey, sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate, soybean oil, oleoresin paprika

These nuggets should have gone extinct with the dinosaurs. They contain bleached wheat flour, which is flour that has traditionally been bleached with harsh agents such as azodicarbonamide and benzoyl peroxide to expedite the process of protein and gluten development. This also means that a lot, and we mean a lot of nutrients are lost in the process, so these nuggets end up offering little nutrition and will spike your insulin levels because of the easily accessible starches, causing you to crave more. Instead of gaining weight by eating foods with bleached flour, try those with resistant starches to help you burn fat instead.

6

Tyson Dinosaur Fun Nuggets

Tyson Dinosaur Fun Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 77 g): 180 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 10 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.34, 0.14, 6.23

Ingredients We Don't Love: dried yeast, extractives of paprika, soybean oil, sugar

Parents look out for their kids’ health, which is why companies like Tyson have smartened up and started using naturally occurring sources to color their foods instead of coal-derived, synthetic food coloring which has been shown to promote Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children. Instead, they use “extractives of paprika.” Although these are botanically derived, a study in Food Chemistry found that the thermally-intense extraction process causes certain compounds in paprika to rearrange and become volatile.

5

Perdue Chicken Breast Nuggets

Perdue Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 76 g): 200 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 10 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.63, 0.17, 5.92

Ingredients We Don't Love: potassium lactate, sodium lactate, dextrose, sugar, flavor, sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium propionate, potassium sorbate, soybean oil

While we commend Perdue’s use of boneless, skinless white chicken breast, we have to dock them for using soybean oil, a fat that has been linked to weight gain. According to researchers at the University of California, soybean oil’s high omega-6 fatty acid content can increase appetite and slow the rate at which the body burns fat, causing you to pack on the pounds. Instead of picking up this package of chemicals, pick up some tips to use on your next shopping adventure in our 50 Best Supermarket Shopping Tips Ever.

4

Perdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Nuggets

Perdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 76 g): 180 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 12 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.37, 0.13, 6.58

Ingredients We Don't Love: yeast extract (MSG)

With very few Ingredients We Don't Love, this one went wrong because of the high sodium content and MSG, which is a chemoinducer of obesity, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

3

Weaver Chicken Breast Nuggets

Weaver Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 79 g): 190 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 10 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.41, 0.14, 6.33

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken,” soy protein hydrolyzed, sodium phosphate, sugar, yeast, soybean oil, dextrose, oleoresin paprika, annatto

Beyond the exorbitant (and absorbent) amount of sodium in these nuggets, they also contain phosphates, food additives that doctors are linking to higher rates of chronic kidney disease, weak bones, and premature death. Even though phosphates are necessary in our diets, excess phosphate—especially the inorganic phosphate that is added to food—is more easily absorbed by the body, leading to high levels of phosphate in the blood and putting you at risk for heart disease.

2

Weaver Chicken Breast Dinosaur Fun Nuggets

Weaver Chicken Breast Fun Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 87 g) 210 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 11 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.41, 0.14, 6.44

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken,” Textured Soy Protein Concentrate (MSG), Sodium Phosphates, Modified Food Starch, Dextrose, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, oleoresin paprika

The only thing we’ve learned about dinosaurs is that they must have been full of fat and sodium. With a slurry of questionable ingredients, these fun nuggets fall low on our rankings. They also are made with an ingredient that contains MSG, but goes by a different name to cover it up: textured soy protein. MSG is a flavoring agent that increases appetite causing you to gain belly fat and can go by many names.

AND THE #1 WORST FROZEN CHICKEN NUGGET IS…


1

Fast Fixin’ Chicken Nuggets

Fast Fixin Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 75 g): 180 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.40, 0.15, 6.80

Ingredients We Don't Love: Soy Protein Concentrate, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Flavoring, Yeast Extract, Chicken Fat, Soybean Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Citric Acid, Gelatin, Modified Food Starch, Dextrose, Sugar, Maltodextrin (MSG), Caramel Color, Yeast Extract, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Spice Extractive

Fast Fixin’ claims they have a new and improved recipe, which makes us wonder what was in the last batch… With added fat, three kinds of sugar, along with caramel coloring additive typically found in soda that has been proven to cause cancer in animals and is a possible carcinogen for humans, this is one nugget you should just fuggetabout.

AND NOW…THE BEST


11

Tyson Chicken Breast Nuggets

Tyson Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (5 pc, 88 g): 220 calories, 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 12 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.50, 0.15, 5.34

Ingredients We Don't Love: brown sugar

There’s a big difference between “organic,” a regulated term, and “natural,” which means next to nothing. Even though Tyson’s Chicken Breast nuggets are “natural” this only means they’re “minimally processed with no artificial ingredients.” But, hey, at least we know the chicken is boneless breast meat and not just “chicken.” Sold.

10

Perdue Whole Grain Chicken Breast Nuggets

Perdue Whole Grain Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 85 g): 170 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 420 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 12 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.00, 0.11, 4.94

Ingredients We Don't Love: brown sugar, yeast extract (MSG), sugar, sodium bicarbonate

A lesson in processed foods: just because it doesn’t say it on the nutrition label, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it. Although Perdue touts these nuggets as having zero grams of sugar, both brown sugar and sugar are included in the list of ingredients, due to a legislative loophole that allows companies to mark zero if a food contains less than 0.5 grams sugar per serving. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with our no-sugar-added best smoothie recipes for weight loss.

9

Earth’s Best Kidz Baked Chicken Nuggets

Earths Best Kidz Baked Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 56 g): 120 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 11 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.14, 0.05, 4.82

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken Meat,” Evaporated Cane Juice, expeller pressed canola oil and/or soybean oil and/or safflower oil.

Along with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, these baked chicken nuggets are super low in fat, with only 0.05 g fat per gram of food. Even better, they’re battered and breaded with whole wheat flour, one of our 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss, providing 8 g of whole grain per 4 piece serving.

8

Milford Valley Farms Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets’>

Nutrition (8 pc, 112 g): 290 calories, 16 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.59, 0.14, 3.13

Ingredients We Don't Love: Textured Soy Flour, Modified Corn Starch (MSG), Sugar, Soy Protein Concentrate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Palm Oil, Chicken Fat, Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy And Wheat Protein, Yeast Extract (MSG), disodium inosinate (MSG) And disodium guanylate (MSG), Thiamine Hydrochloride, Corn Syrup Solids

Despite having a good nutritional rep, we had to dock these nuggets for having not one, not two (and not even three) but four sources of MSG, the neurotoxin that’s been shown to damage nerve cells by over-exciting them to the point of cell death.

7

Ian’s Natural Foods Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

Ians Natural Foods Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (5 pc, 84 g): 200 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 310 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 13 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.38, 0.12, 3.69

Ingredients We Don't Love: cane sugar

For being allergy friendly, gluten free and having next to no questionable ingredients, we expected these nuggets to rank higher on our list. However, with sea salt appearing in two different applications in the cooking process, it ups the sodium levels a bit. One of the 25 Things You're Doing to Slow Your Metabolism, sodium changes the way in which we absorb fat.

6

Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (7 pc, 88 g): 170 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 12 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 1.93, 0.10, 3.98

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken”

The only bones we have to pick with Applegate Naturals is that these nuggets have the undescriptive “chicken” ingredient. Alas, since they’re sugar-free and contain no artificial additives, these gluten-free bites are good for everyone.

5

Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

Trader Joes Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 112 g): 200 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 430 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 16 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 1.79, 0.04, 3.84

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken Breast Meat Containing up to 15% of a Solution of: Water, Seasoning (Garlic Powder, Salt), and Sodium Phosphates.” Modified Corn Starch (MSG), Modified Potato Starch, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Dextrose, Soybean Oil

These gluten free bite-sized nuggets are made from chicken meat that has been injected, or “plumped,” with a combination of water, seasoning, and loads of salts and phosphates to make a juicier meat. Because of the excess water, companies have to add extra binding agents in the solution to prevent the added salt and water from leaching out of the meat, which is why added binders like modified corn starch and modified potato starch have to be added, along with their MSG derivatives that make you forget you’re full, one of the 30 Bad Habits That Lead to a Fat Belly.

4

Nature’s Rancher Chicken Nuggets

Natures Rancher Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (3 pc, 114 g): 180 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 22 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 1.58, 0.02, 3.51

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken with rib meat, contains up to 12% solution of water, sea salt,” sugar, torula yeast (MSG alternative)

The nuggets—the lowest in calories here—are available only at Whole Foods, a company that prides themselves on their sustainable, GMO-free ingredients. We’re not so sure they would be happy about Nature’s Rancher using torula yeast, however, since the gluten-free alternative to MSG causes the same adverse reactions as its predecessor.

3

Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

Bell and Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets

Nutrition (n/a pc, 113 g): 220 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 21 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 1.95, 0.08, 3.19

Ingredients We Don't Love: evaporated cane juice, dried yeast (MSG), soybean oil

Even with Bell & Evans line of fully-cooked, all natural chicken products—one of our 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss—these nuggets remain their top seller, and one of our favorite picks. These nuggets are hand-cut, contain whole breast meat pieces and have one of the shortest ingredient lists of the bunch, making them the perfect meal for both kids and adults.

2

Earth’s Best Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets

Earths Best Baked Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (3 pc, 56 g): 120 calories, 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, < 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 6 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.14, 0.09, 1.61

Ingredients We Don't Love: maltodextrin (MSG), flavor, expeller pressed canola oil, evaporated cane syrup

Rather than wheat or white flour, Earth’s Best Gluten Free nuggets are tossed with dried potatoes, rice flour and yellow corn flour to make that signature crunchy breading. Plus, they beat out every other nugget in terms of having the lowest amount of sodium by a long shot.

AND THE #1 BEST FROZEN CHICKEN NUGGET IS…


1

Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets

Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (7 pc, 88 g): 180 calories, 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 12 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.05, 0.10, 2.39

Ingredients We Don't Love: “Chicken”

Applegate only uses select cuts of antibiotic-free thigh and breast meat, but still no promises on biting into an unpulverized piece of chicken. Even though they don’t nab any of the top spots for being low in calories, fat, or sodium, when considering them all together, Applegate’s relatively light breading and simple ingredients make their nuggets our top pick because they help you keep belly fat
to a minimum.

Category 2: Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

Fast Food Chicken Nugget

Chicken nuggets from a fast food place might induce a bit of nostalgia; they seem so innocent and like part of your childhood. But these little guys are very complex—and we're about to get real with you.

Fast food nuggets all start with chicken, one of our 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss, but also contain several synthetic ingredients derived from sources far from any type of poultry. Instead, they come from a corn or soybean field (soybean oil, modified cornstarch and mono- and diglycerides), a petroleum refinery (artificial colors like Yellow #5 and Red #40) or a chemical plant (bleached wheat flour, oleoresin paprika, and carrageenan). These chemicals help make overly-processed foods like chicken nuggets possible because that's what keeps the (very few) organic materials in the nuggets from going bad (or looking weird) after days spent traveling on the road or months in the freezer. More of a frozen chicken nugget person? Check out the sister article to this one, Every Frozen Chicken Nugget—Ranked!

Processed chicken nuggets are concentrated with sugars, carbohydrates, and fats—which our bodies respond to quickly because they offer the most energy (calories) per bite, and because they help relieve stress by bathing your brain in chemicals that make it feel good. Most of these menu items are pumped with chemicals that boost our cravings, too. Chicken McNuggets, along with many others, contain a substance called autolyzed yeast extract that works like monosodium glutamate (MSG). It’s primary purpose: to artificially enhance the taste and craveability of the food it’s used in. Bite-sized, fun-shaped nuggets may help to satisfy your grumbling stomach on a long car ride, but they’re not exactly high protein snacks.

We here at Eat This, Not That! want to help you understand what fast food restaurants are putting in your nuggets so next time you’ll know which chicken to peck, er, we mean pick. We examined the nutritionals and then ranked each nugget by calories, fat, and sodium per gram because the size of each order and the size of the chicken (nugget, strip or tender) varied greatly between restaurants. We also considered how many and what kinds of ingredients were added to each nugget, knocking off points for having trans fats. (Unlike beef, chicken should be 100% trans-fat free.) Read on to discover which nugget you should be ordering on your fast food cheat day.

FIRST…THE WORST

13

Jack in the Box Crispy Chicken Strips

Jack in the Box Crispy Chicken Strips

Nutrition (4 pc, 195 g): 563 calories, 24 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,581 mg sodium, 53 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 33 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.89, 0.12, 8.11

Ingredients We Don't Love: isolated potato product, isolated oat product, modified corn starch, soy protein concentrate, sodium phosphate, dextrose, natural flavor, extractives of paprika, sugar, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, canola blend frying oil

As the third ingredient after chicken and water, isolated potato product is a binder/filler used in chicken nugget production. Even though these chicken strips are made with all white meat chicken, they’re nothing like full strips of chicken breast or tenderloin. That’s because of binders (i.e. meat glue). Because the chicken is pulverized, binders like isolated potato product and isolated oat product are needed to help glue together this processed chicken so it can be shaped into something that looks like it should be a chicken strip (which it still isn’t). Instead of eating nuggets with this synthetic carb, check out 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss.

12

Sonic Spicy Jumbo Popcorn Chicken

Sonic Spicy Jumbo Popcorn Chicken

Nutrition (snack, 113 g): 350 calories, 17 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 860 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 21 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.04, 0.15, 7.61

Ingredients We Don't Love: n/a

Sonic, home to one of the saltiest restaurant desserts, doesn’t list the ingredients they use in their food online. That makes us wonder what this fried-food supplier is hiding. If they’re anything like their fellow fast-food associates, it’s probably a slew of artificially processed additives and chemicals. Because of the lack of ingredients, we docked Sonic, one of the most caloric chains in America, along with any other company that refuses to post their ingredients online, for being shady.

11

Jack in the Box Chicken Nuggets

Jack in the Box Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (5 pc, 77 g): 238 calories, 17 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 604 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 9 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.09, 0.22, 7.84

Ingredients We Don't Love: soy protein concentrate, modified corn starch, sodium phosphates, sugar, sodium bicarbonate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, dextrose, sodium aluminum sulfate, calcium sulfate, tricalcium phosphate, canola blend frying oil

These chicken nuggets might not have the highest sodium content per serving, but when you look at sodium per gram, they’re higher than you’d expect. Sodium is added to many fast food products to help with preservation in their long journey from production, shipping, freezing, and finally, to your stomach. Too much sodium in your diet can cause your body to retain water, making you feel bloated and puffy. In fact, a new study from Queen Mary University in London found that for every extra gram of salt you eat in a day, your risk of obesity climbs by 25 percent, so cutting down on salt might be the absolute best way to shed belly fat, fast.

10

Culver’s Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Culvers Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Nutrition (4 pc, 206 g): 460 calories, 22 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,820 mg sodium, 32 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 34 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.23, 0.11, 8.83

Ingredients We Don't Love: paprika extract, spice extract, silicon dioxide, modified tapioca starch, sodium phosphates, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, disodium inosinate (may contain MSG), disodium guanylate (may contain MSG)

Restaurants, like Culver’s, have started to recognize the public’s aversion to coal-derived, synthetic food coloring, which has been shown to promote Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children. They substituted these artificial coloring agents with naturally-occurring sources like paprika extract to color their foods instead. Although these are botanically derived, a study in Food Chemistry found that the thermally-intense extraction process causes certain compounds in paprika to rearrange, become volatile, and potentially end up in your food. Instead of giving your kids these tenders to snack on, try one of these healthy chips.

9

Chick-Fil-A Nuggets

Chick Fil A Nuggets

Nutrition (8 pc, 113 g): 270 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1,060 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 28 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.39, 0.12, 9.38

Ingredients We Don't Love: monosodium glutamate (MSG), sugar, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, soybean oil, dimethylpolysiloxane

You know the drill: anything you can’t pronounce on a food label probably isn’t good for you. That saying holds true with dimethylpolysiloxane. This chemical is an “anti-foaming” agent added to cooking oil to help keep the starches from binding to air molecules, which typically would produce foam during frying. According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxane is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen and tumorigen.

8

Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets

Wendys Spicy Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 60 g): 190 calories, 12 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 11 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 9 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.17, 0.20, 8.00

Ingredients We Don't Love: spice extractive, sodium phosphates, bleached wheat flour, modified corn starch, extractives of paprika, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate, vegetable frying oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid, dimethylpolysiloxane)

Because of the long trip from production to your plate, Wendy’s adds leavening agents such as sodium phosphates, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium acid pyrophosphate to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. These agents contain phosphates, food additives that doctors have linked to higher rates of chronic kidney disease, weak bones, and even premature death. Excess phosphate—especially the inorganic phosphate that is added to food—is easily absorbed by the body, and can lead to high levels of phosphate in the blood, putting you at risk for heart disease.

7

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries

Nutrition (9 pc, 88 g): 270 calories, 16 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 850 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.07, 0.18, 9.66

Ingredients We Don't Love: “portioned chicken breasts with rib meat, containing: up to 19% of a solution of water, seasoning,” maltodextrin (may contain MSG), modified food starch, sodium diacetate, natural and artificial flavor, chicken fat, disodium inosinate (may contain MSG) and disodium guanylate (may contain MSG), isolated oat product, sodium phosphates, yellow #5 and #6, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate, vegetable oil

Yes, these aren’t your traditional oval-shaped nuggets, but Burger King’s Buffalo Chicken Fries’ ingredient list certainly resembles a nugget—from the modified food starch to the isolated oat product to the slew of MSG substitutes. They do, however, contain an ingredient not commonly found in chicken products: Yellow #5. Added to help give the buffalo fries their characteristic red hue, Yellow #5 has been linked to hyperactivity in children, according to a Journal of Pediatrics study. Speaking of scary chemicals, be sure to avoid these 8 Ingredients You Never Want to See on Your Nutrition Label.

6

Zaxby’s Chicken Fingerz

Zaxbys Chicken Fingerz

Nutrition (5 pc, 176 g): 390 calories, 18 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1,830 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 44 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.22, 0.10, 10.40

Ingredients We Don't Love: n/a

Fast food restaurants like Zaxby’s pull out all the stops when it comes to making their food look and taste great, and that’s because calibrating food to appeal to our tastebuds inspires us to keep eating. Fast food companies make sure all our innate desires for a variety o f sweet, salty, and bitter tastes are satisfied, and even without a list of ingredients, we’re pretty sure Zaxby’s has that covered on the salty front. One serving of these Fingerz brings you over half your day’s recommended intake of sodium.

5

KFC Popcorn Nuggets

KFC Popcorn Nuggets

Nutrition (Large, 170.2 g): 570 calories, 33 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1,890 mg sodium, 37 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 30 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.35, 0.19, 11.10

Ingredients We Don't Love: soy protein concentrate, modified food starch, food starch, carrageenan (may contain MSG), spice extractive, sodium phosphates, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), maltodextrin (may contain MSG), flavorings, sugar, corn syrup solids, autolyzed yeast extract (may contain MSG), modified wheat starch, dextrin, sodium caseinate (may contain MSG), modified cellulose gum, mono and diglycerides, soybean oil, sodium acid pyrophosphate, dextrose, natural flavorings

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Pollan, researchers have found that people presented with large portions will eat up to 30 percent more than they would otherwise—it’s just too bad the particular nutrients you’re most likely to encounter in this one-size-means-large KFC popcorn nugget order are lots of added sugar and fat. One of those added sugars is corn syrup solids, which is basically just dried glucose syrup. Sugar is one of the main reasons why you’re gaining weight, but you can cut down on the sweet stuff with these weight loss teas.

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Sonic Jumbo Popcorn Chicken

Sonic Jumbo Popcorn Chicken

Nutrition (snack, 113 g): 380 calories, 22 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1,250 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 18 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.36, 0.19, 11.06

Ingredients We Don't Love: n/a

We might not know anything about the ingredients, but we do know that even the snack size of these Jumbo Popcorn Chicken bites from Sonic have some of the worst nutritionals: highest in calories, fat, and second highest for sodium per gram behind KFC’s popcorn nuggets. Hello, man boobs—and worse, eating foods with such a high caloric content “can lead to obesity, which puts you at risk of developing chronic diseases,” warns Jim White, RD, ACSM.

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Carl’s Jr. Chicken Stars

Carls Jr Chicken Stars

Nutrition (4 pc, 61 g): 170 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 8 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.79, 0.16, 5.90

Ingredients We Don't Love: “chicken,” dehydrated chicken fat, chicken type flavor (hydrolyzed soy protein (may contain MSG), autolyzed yeast extract (may contain MSG), flavor, hydrolyzed corn protein (may contain MSG), chicken fat), beef flavor (hydrolyzed soy protein (may contain MSG), hydrolyzed soy, wheat, and corn protein (may contain MSG), beef fat, flavor), and flavor (partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil (source of trans fats), artificial flavor, and flavor)], isolated oat product, sodium phosphates, sugar, modified corn starch (may contain MSG), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate, soybean oil, natural flavor, vegetable oil (soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid to protect flavor, dimethylpolysiloxane)

Along with these 40 Daily Habits That Make You Sick and Fat, fast foods are known to be huge fat bombs, and that’s because they’re deep fried and served with high-fat dipping sauces. These Chicken Stars are particularly fatty, and that’s because Carl’s Jr. injects them with dehydrated chicken fat, chicken fat, and beef fat. Plus, they have hidden trans fats from their use of partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil that can lower your good (LDL) cholesterol, further putting your heart and your health on the line.

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Popeyes Handcrafted Spicy Tenders

Popeyes Handcrafted Spicy Tenders

Nutrition (3 pc, 126 g): 310 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,240 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 28 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.46, 0.12, 9.84

Ingredients We Don't Love: “marinated chicken strips: contains up to 30% of a solution of water, seasoning,” capsicums, monosodium glutamate (MSG), isolated soy protein, modified food starch, carrageenan (may contain MSG) with less than 2% lecithin, sodium phosphates, mono and diglycerides, maltodextrin (may contain MSG), and oleoresin paprika [natural flavoring, cottonseed oil, mono and diglycerides, tocopherol], sugar, fd&c yellow #5 (may also contain yellow #6, red #40, red #3, grape color extract, blue #1, blue #2, beet color extract, annatto extract and/or turmeric extract, sodium bicarbonate and/or sodium aluminum sulfate, microcrystalline cellulose, natural flavor (contains corn syrup solids).

Eating a diet high in artificial colors and preservatives may play a role in influencing your mental health, we just didn’t think we’d have to tell you that in regards to a chicken nugget. Popeyes adds not one, not two, and not even three, but six artificial colorings to their spicy chicken tenders. (Why, Popeyes, why?!) A review of related research published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics indicated that many artificial colorings, like yellow #5 and red #40, increase hyperactivity.

AND THE #1 WORST FAST FOOD CHICKEN NUGGET IS…


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Popeyes Handcrafted Mild Tenders

Popeyes Handcrafted Mild Tenders

Nutrition (3 pc, 126 g): 340 calories, 14 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,350 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 27 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.70, 0.11, 10.7

Ingredients We Don’t Love: “marinated chicken strips: contains up to 30% of a solution of water, seasoning (food starch modified, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salt, seasoning, natural flavor (lactic acid and polysorbate 80), seasoning (modified corn starch, salt, natural flavoring, monosodium glutamate (MSG), maltodextrin (may contain MSG), silicon dioxide),” isolated soy protein, modified food starch, carrageenan, soy lecithin, sodium phosphates, mono and diglycerides, maltodextrin, enriched bleached wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, s­pack, fd&c yellow #5, (may also contain yellow #6, red #40, red #3, grape color extract, blue #1, blue #2, beet color extract, annatto extract and/or turmeric extract), sodium bicarbonate and/or sodium aluminum sulfate, microcrystalline cellulose, natural flavor, corn syrup solids

Worse than Popeyes’ laundry list of ingredients, these nuggets contain a gram of trans fat—the man-made fat that has been banned by the FDA because of its ties to heart disease, weight gain, and stroke. Not only can it wreak havoc on your weight loss plan, but solid trans fats can also clog arteries, including those in your brain, impairing cognitive function and memory. It’s not just in your fast food either. See which of your favorite foods contain unhealthy trans fat in our Eat This, Not That! special report Fatty Foods that Hurt Your Brain.

AND NOW…THE BEST!

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Burger King Chicken Fries

Burger King Chicken Fries

Nutrition (9 pc, 102g): 290 calories, 17 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 780 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 16 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.84, 0.17, 7.65

Ingredients We Don't Love: modified corn starch (may contain MSG), flavoring, modified potato starch, sodium phosphates, bleached wheat flour, modified wheat starch, dextrose, monosodium glutamate (MSG), soybean oil, maltodextrin (may contain MSG), natural flavor, extractives of paprika, methylcellulose, mono and diglycerides, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, sugar

One of the most harmful ingredients in Burger King’s food sounds pretty innocuous at first glance. Bleached wheat flour is flour that has traditionally been bleached with harsh agents such as azodicarbonamide and benzoyl peroxide to expedite the process of protein and gluten development. This means that a lot of nutrients are lost in the process, so these nuggets end up offering little nutrition. Even worse, because of the easily accessible starches that can turn into glucose faster than anything else and increase your blood sugar, consumption of foods made with bleached wheat flour may lead to diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

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Culver’s Chicken Tenders

Culvers Chicken Tenders

Nutrition (4 pc, 228 g): 540 calories, 24 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 1,840 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 40 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.37, 0.11, 8.07

Ingredients We Don't Love: modified tapioca starch, sodium tripolyphosphate, modified corn starch (may contain MSG), sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, autolyzed yeast extract (may contain MSG), disodium inosinate (may contain MSG) and disodium guanylate (may contain MSG), sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, dextrose, paprika extract, and turmeric extract, soybean oil

We love the fact that Culver’s uses the actual cut of tender, all-natural, whole white meat chicken, but that didn’t stop them from loading on the additives in the “predust” and batter. One of those ingredients is soybean oil. The fat in this vegetable oil is primarily omega-6 fat, which when consumed in excess compared to healthy omega-3’s, omega-6 fat can help promote chronic inflammation in your body, which is an underlying issue for virtually all chronic diseases. If you’re splurging on these tenders, bump up your omega-3 fatty acid levels with one of our favorite avocado recipes for weight loss.

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Arby’s Prime-Cut Chicken Tenders

Arbys Prime Cut Chicken Tenders

Nutrition (3 pc, 131 g): 360 calories, 17 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 950 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 23 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.75, 0.13, 7.25

Ingredients We Don't Love: hydrolyzed corn and soy protein (may contain MSG), flavor, autolyzed yeast extract (may contain MSG), disodium guanylate (may contain MSG), disodium inosinate (may contain MSG), enzyme modified egg yolk, sodium phosphate, bleached wheat flour, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, dextrose, extractives of paprika and turmeric

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein’s primary purpose is to artificially enhance the taste and craveability of food—no wonder it tastes so good. These plant proteins are chemically broken down into amino acids such as glutamic acid, which can release free glutamate. When glutamate joins with free sodium in your body, they form monosodium glutamate (MSG), an additive known to cause headaches, nausea, and weakness in sensitive individuals. When isolated MSG is added to products directly, the FDA requires manufacturers to disclose its inclusion on the ingredient statement, but when it occurs as a byproduct of hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate, or disodium inosinate, among others, the FDA allows it to go unrecognized.

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Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets

Wendys Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 60 g): 180 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 10 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 3.00, 0.22, 6.50

Ingredients We Don't Love: sodium phosphates, bleached wheat flour, salt, modified corn starch (may contain MSG), dextrose, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, natural and artificial flavor, spice extractives, cooked in vegetable oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid, dimethylpolysiloxane

Twenty percent of the fat in Wendy’s chicken nuggets is saturated fatty acids—the fatty acids that can raise your blood cholesterol levels, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. On top of that, nutritionist Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, says that “saturated fats can negatively impact the heart, but there’s also research that suggests high saturated fat intake may negatively impact brain function and memory.” Maybe that’s why you keep forgetting to skip that drive-thru! Kick your fast-food habit and stock up on these 30 Foods That Melt Love Handles!

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Sonic Super Crunch Chicken Strips

Sonic Super Crunch Chicken Strips

Nutrition (3 pc, 114 g): 330 calories, 16 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 670 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 22 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.89, 0.14, 5.88

Ingredients We Don't Love: n/a

Even if you get the 5-piece, after eating these extra crunchy chicken strips, you’ll still be starving—nutritionally speaking, that is. “Your body is temporarily full with empty foods that don’t provide nourishment, so even though you may have eaten a lot of calories, you won’t be satisfied for long,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. Because the calories in fast food are accompanied by low nutritional content, your body will begin to lack the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly.

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McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets

McDonalds Chicken McNuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 65 g): 190 calories, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 9 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.92, 0.18, 5.54

Ingredients We Don't Love: “white boneless chicken,” modified food starch, autolyzed yeast extract (may contain MSG), natural flavoring, dextrose, sodium phosphates, bleached wheat flour, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, calcium lactate

Even though Chicken McNuggets aren’t all that bad (#6 best nugget!) they are constantly under fire in the media, whether it’s because of pink slime claims or because they, uh, melt? According to former McDonald's employee and Reddit user DFunkatron, "I accidentally left a whole bag of about 100 chicken nuggets out on a counter for way too long. They melted. Into a pool of liquid." How might that happen, you may ask? It could be because the finely-ground chicken meat has to be combined with a water-based marinade of sodium phosphates, food starches, dextrose, citric acid, autolyzed yeast extract, and natural flavoring just to keep it bound together. No wonder pre-fry, defrosted nuggets melt—other than chicken, they’re mostly made up of chemical water.

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Hardee’s Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

Hardees Hand Breaded Chicken Tenders

Nutrition (3 pc, 128 g): 260 calories, 13 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 770 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 25 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.03, 0.10, 6.02

Ingredients We Don't Love: “boneless, skinless, tendon-less chicken tenderloin containing up to 15% of a solution of water, salt, and sodium phosphates,” modified food starch, locust bean gum, carrageenan (may contain MSG), mono and diglycerides, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), extractives of paprika and annatto, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid to protect flavor, dimethylpolysiloxane

Fast food chains make sure to claim that the petroleum-derived antioxidant TBHQ, or tertiary butylhydroquinone, is added to your food to preserve freshness—and for good reason. Otherwise, you might think it was a form of butane… which it is. According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food. It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget, which is probably a good thing considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, or a sense of suffocation. Skip out on the fried food and cook up a meal at home with these healthy chicken recipes.

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Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Strips

Chick Fil A Chick n Strips

Nutrition (3 pc, 163 g): 360 calories, 18 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 990 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 33 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.65, 0.11, 6.07

Ingredients We Don't Love: autolyzed yeast (may contain MSG), maltodextrin (may contain MSG), natural flavor, chicken fat, sugar cane syrup, sodium diacetate, silicon dioxide, sugar, oleoresin paprika, smoke flavor, caramel color, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium aluminum phosphate, soybean oil, dimethylpolysiloxane.

These “generously portioned” Chick-n-Strips are generously marinated with special seasonings like MSG, chicken fat, and caramel color (an additive typically found in soda). A study by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 2-methylimidazole causes cancer in lab rats, which is pretty bad considering 2-methylimidazole is an ingredient in caramel coloring. Another ingredient in this coloring agent is 4-methylimidazole, which has been found to produce carcinogenic activity in mice.

3

Burger King Chicken Nuggets

Burger King Chicken Nuggets

Nutrition (4 pc, 70 g): 190 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 9 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.71, 0.16, 5.14

Ingredients We Don't Love: potassium chloride, autolyzed yeast extract (may contain MSG), maltodextrin (may contain MSG), chicken fat, citric acid, dextrin, disodium inosinate (may contain MSG) & disodium guanylate (may contain MSG), dried chicken, mannitol, modified cornstarch, modified food starch, sodium phosphates, modified wheat starch, modified corn starch (may contain MSG), sodium gluconate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum phosphate, dextrose, potassium chloride

Any place that sells 10 nuggets for less than $1.50 isn’t selling you nutritious food. In fact, it might not be food at all… Apart from chicken and water, Burger King adds various non-food chemicals and additives in the forms of MSG, modified starches, and sodium aluminum phosphate. Even though sodium aluminum phosphate is used for leavening, the aluminum found in it is a metal that researchers have linked to Alzheimer’s disease incidence when ingested, according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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KFC Extra Crispy Tenders

KFC Extra Crispy Tenders

Nutrition (3 pc, 154.5 g): 380 calories, 20 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 940 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 33 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 2.52, 0.14, 6.02

Ingredients We Don't Love: “chicken breast tenderloins or chicken breast strips with rib meat,” modified potato starch, natural chicken flavor [maltodextrin (MSG), autolyzed yeast extract (MSG), chicken fat, dehydrated cooked chicken, spice extractive], potassium and sodium phosphates. monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate, modified corn starch (MSG), citric acid, 2% calcium silicate added as an anti-caking agent, natural flavorings, sugar, corn syrup solids

These chicken nuggets might contain the most chicken out of all the nuggets in the fast food world. Why? Because besides chicken breast tenderloins or breast strips with rib meat, they are also seasoned with the Colonel’s special blend of chicken fat and dehydrated cooked chicken… that’s just gross. All that chicken displaces a digestive system staple, dietary fiber, which only appears as less than a gram per serving. Fiber helps keep your digestive tract working properly as it ushers wastes out of the body. It can help lower cholesterol and keep blood-sugar levels normal. What does contain high fiber content? These 11 Best High-Fiber Foods for Weight Loss!

AND THE #1 BEST FAST FOOD CHICKEN NUGGET IS…A TIE!


1a

Tie: Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets

Chick Fil A Grilled Nuggets

Nutrition (8 pc, 100 g): 140 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 23 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 1.40, 0.03, 5.30

Ingredients We Don't Love: soybean oil, yeast extract (MSG), modified corn starch (MSG), palm oil, corn maltodextrin (MSG), flavor, sugar, cane molasses, chicken fat, natural flavor, dextrose, ascorbic acid

We know these aren’t your traditional breaded chicken nugget, but their ingredient list sure resembles one. While they are the most nutritionally sound regarding calories, fat, and sodium, they still have an absurd list of ingredients. The whole breast filet is injected with a solution of salts, extra animal fat and chemicals like smoke flavoring and other preservatives to make up for the lack of tasty breading. And with their slender frame, it’s more likely that those marks were branded on at the factory or painted with dyes rather than grilled. Besides fake grill marks, check out this story for the other 24 Things Fast Food Chains Don’t Want You To Know.

1b

Tie: A&W Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

AW Hand Breaded Chicken Tenders

Nutrition (3 pc, 156 g): 260 calories, 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1,100 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 40 g protein
Calories, fat, sodium per gram: 1.67, 0.06, 7.05

Ingredients We Don't Love: sodium phosphate, soybean oil, monosodium glutamate (MSG)

While we normally don’t recommend anything with more than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving, there was no denying that these tenders deserved the top spot with the fewest ingredients we don't love. Per gram, their nutritionals are still pretty good, and would have ranked them second. If you’re planning on ordering fast food chicken, make these tenders your go-to—just make sure you flush them down with lots of detox water.