What's Really in McDonald's Chicken Nuggets? Dietitians explain | Livestrong.com (2024)

What's Really in McDonald's Chicken Nuggets? Dietitians explain | Livestrong.com (1)

Mickey D's Chicken McNuggets are allowed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Image credit:rez-art/iStock/Getty Images

A classic for children (and children at heart),McDonald's Chicken McNuggetshas been at the forefront of public attention for decades. Many parents depend on themquick and easy dinners, but are they really something we should feed our children – or eat ourselves?


“The Chicken McNugget has continually improved since its inception in the 1980s,” says the registered dietitian.Sarah Pflugradt, RDN, CSCS. While chicken nuggets are fast food and not something everyone should eat every day, they're also not the worst thing you can eat, she says.

Today's video

Today's video

We've taken a closer look at what's actually in a McDonald's chicken nugget and what it means for your health.


Chicken McNuggets Nutrition Facts

1 gold nugget


6 dele

10 st







2,5 gr

10 gram

15 gram

25 gram

Totally fed

2,5 gr

10 gram

15 gram

25 gram

Saturated fat

0,4 gr

1,5 gr

2,5 gr

4 gram

Egg white

2 gram

9 gr

14 gr

23 gram


83 mg

330 mg

500 mg

840 mg


Are McDonald's chicken nuggets healthy?

'Healthy' is a difficult word to define because everyone's nutritional needs and interpretation of the word can be different. McDonald's McNuggets provide high-quality protein in the form of chicken breast, but they are also high in sodiumDietary Guidelines for Americansadvise to limit.

Although McNuggets fit into a nutritious diet, lean protein sources with less fat and sodium are better choices.

What are McDonald's Chicken Nuggets made of?

If you've ever wondered what's really in McDonald's chicken nuggets, we explain each ingredient and how it can affect your health. The ingredients below are listed in descending order so that the ingredients used in the largest quantity are used first and those used in smaller quantities next.


1. Boneless white chicken

The main ingredient in McDonald's chicken nuggets is 100 percent white, bonelesschicken fillet meat.

Myths have been around before that the meat is full of by-products, but their current recipe uses only 100 percent chicken breast. In terms of the percentage of the nugget is white meat chicken: the chicken is part of the chicken nugget, while the remaining twelve ingredients make up the rest.


2. Vegetable oil

The vegetable oil in the chicken nuggets is a mixture of canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and hydrogenated soybean oil. Although most vegetable oils are primarily unsaturated fats (except coconut and palm oil), the hydrogenation process increases the amount of saturated fat in any oil, according to research.Consumer Reports.

“A gold nugget cut into four pieces contains 1.5 grams of saturated fat, which falls within both the US government and American Heart Association guidelines for saturated fat intake. It is something to be aware of and limit in the diet, but don't worry about it. small amounts," says Pflugradt.


3. Enriched flour

Some of the breadcrumbs in the chicken nuggets are made from wheat flour that has been bleached and then enriched by adding niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid.


Fortified grains have helped alleviate some common nutrient deficiencies. Fortified grains are the largest source of human folic acid given to women at birth in the United States, and adding folic acid to grains has reduced the number of neural tube defects caused by folate deficiency during pregnancy by 35 percent, according to a May study . Article from 2019 iAdvances in nutrition.


4. Bleached wheat flour

Next in line is bleached flour, i.edoesn'tenriched with nutrients. Flour is bleached, making the texture finer, lighter and whiter in color. All flour eventually reaches a bleached state as it ages and is exposed to oxygen, but flour that has been bleached with chemicals is by definition labeled "bleached."Algemene Mills Foods.

"Bleached flour is a food that gets a lot of attention. It's impossible to know what type of bleaching agents are used in the flour McDonald's uses for their nuggets," says Pflugradt. ThatUS Food and Drug Administration(FDA) allows and regulates nitrogen oxides, chlorine, nitrosyl chloride, chlorine dioxide, benzoyl peroxide, acetone peroxide, and azodicarbonamide all to be used as bleaching agents in amounts considered safe.


5. Yellow cornmeal

Yellow cornmeal is a whole wheat flour that is added to the Chicken McNuggets batter. It is a source of carbohydrates, but also provides a fair amount of iron, a mineral that keeps oxygen flowing through the blood, per serving.National Institute of Health(NIH).

6. Vegetable starch

McDonald's chicken nuggets use a blend of vegetable starch from corn, wheat, rice and peas. Starch is a carbohydrate found in plants. Adding vegetable starch to the batter increases the crispiness of the breadcrumbs during frying, according to a February 2004 article in ‌European food research and technology.



7. Salt

A four-piece serving of McDonald's chicken nugget contains 330 milligrams of sodium. If you order 10, you will eat 840 milligrams of sodium in just one meal.

A diet high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even contribute to osteoporosis by causing calcium to leach from your bones.Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

OfAmerican Heart Associationrecommends less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. A four- or six-piece chicken nugget meal contains some sodium, but when you consider the other foods you eat in a day, they still fit into a sodium-controlled diet.

8. Proofs

To help the chicken nuggets puff up during the heating process, McDonald's adds a mixture of several leavening agents, including baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, acid sodium pyrophosphate, calcium lactate and monocalcium phosphate, to the batter.

All these additives are regulated byFDAand approved for use in food.

9. Spices

The spices used in McDonald's chicken nuggets are not disclosed, but are used to add flavor to the batter.

10. Yeast extract

Yeast extract is added to improve the taste of the food, as is the additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), because it is alsoamino acid glutamate.

Glutamate is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body and is often added to foods for an umami flavor. It is necessary for neuron and brain function and, according to him, also plays a role in memory and cognitionCleveland Clinic.


Although eating too much MSG has been linked to symptoms such as headaches, numbness, tingling or flushing, yeast extract contains much less glutamate and is unlikely to cause any kind of reaction, according to the study.Center for Science in the Public Interest.

11. Lemon juice solids

Dried lemon juice adds freshness to food. A small amount is used in McDonald's chicken nuggets.

12. Dextrose

Dextroseis a simple sugar used to sweeten food. Although diets high in added sugars are linked to diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some cancers, a November 2016 article in ‌ showsNutrientsVery little is added to McDonald's chicken nuggets.

13. Natural flavors

According toFDA, natural flavors on an ingredients list are flavors derived from:

  • Spices
  • Fruits and vegetables or their juices
  • Edible yeast
  • Herbs, bark, buds, roots, leaves or similar plant material
  • Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs or dairy products
  • Fermentation products

The origin of the flavors cannot be disclosed, making it unknown where the natural flavors in McDonald's chicken nuggets come from.

There are no real health concerns with itnatural flavorsunless you have food allergies or dietary restrictions that would allow you to avoid them, or contact the company about where the natural flavors come from.

Indeholder McDonald's Chicken Nuggets 'Pink Slime'?

The dreaded 'pink slime' found inFast foodmeat was sensationalized in 2010 by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in a video showing schoolchildren how to make Chicken McNuggets. The "slime" in question is actually a product known as fine-textured lean beef.


To make this type of meat product, the beef cuts are heated and then sent through a centrifuge to separate the fat from the lean meat. The lean meat mixture is then treated with an ammonium gas to kill any E. coli or salmonella present, according to an April 2012 reportCongressional Research Servicerapport.

Although McDonald's used this product in the past, they removed it from all their foods in August 2011, according to a statement inABC news. And according toMcDonald's-website, the "pink slime" is still nowhere to be found in their chicken nuggets or other products sold in McDonald's stores.

In short

"All in all, eating some Chicken McNuggets every now and then won't break your healthy eating habits," says Pflugradt.

McDonald's has made many changes to their chicken nugget recipe over the years to use better quality products and meet consumer desires for more natural, yet tasty and inexpensive convenience foods.



What's Really in McDonald's Chicken Nuggets? Dietitians explain | Livestrong.com (2024)


What's Really in McDonald's Chicken Nuggets? Dietitians explain | Livestrong.com? ›

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets contain a variety of ingredients, including chicken, water, flour, and spices. They're popular for their taste, convenience, and brand recognition. However, they are considered unhealthy due to their high calories, fat, sodium content, and processing.

What is really in McDonalds chicken nuggets? ›

Ingredients: White Boneless Chicken, Water, Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Enriched Flour (bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Vegetable Starch (modified Corn, Wheat, Rice, Pea, ...

What are legitimately in the McNuggets? ›

We start with all white-meat chicken cut from the tenderloin, breast and rib and mix it with a marinade for flavor and juiciness and to help them keep their fun shape. Once everything is mixed, we create the four famous Chicken McNuggets® shapes—bell, boot, ball and bone.

What is the truth about Chicken McNuggets? ›

Nuggets are fried in hydrogenated oil and contain high amounts of sugar, fat, and preservatives. This makes them an unhealthy choice, especially if you eat them often. This is because the main component of the chicken nugget is not chicken.

Are McDonalds chicken nuggets really bad for you? ›

McDonald's McNuggets offer quality protein in the form of chicken breast but they're also high in sodium, which the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting. While McNuggets can fit into a nutritious eating pattern, lean protein sources with less fat and sodium are better choices.

What is McDonald's meat made out of? ›

Here are the facts: All of our burger patties in the U.S. are always made with 100% USDA-inspected beef. That's the only ingredient: 100% real beef. Our patties contain no preservatives or fillers, and the only thing we ever add is a touch of salt and pepper when the patties are sizzling hot on the grill.

Are McNuggets 100% chicken breast? ›

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets®® are made from 100% chicken breast meat. However, as a percentage of the total recipe when the batter, seasoning and oil to cook the nuggets are taken into account, chicken meat constitutes 45% of the total Chicken McNugget®, the other ingredients account for the additional 55%.

What is the pink slime in McDonald's chicken nuggets? ›

Let's set the record straight: this image in connection with McDonald's is a myth. In fact, we don't know where it came from, but it's not our food. The photo is not a representation of how we create our Chicken McNuggets®, or for that matter, any item on our menu.

Are McNuggets processed chicken? ›

Description and origin. The Chicken McNugget is a small piece of processed chicken meat that is fried in batter and flash-frozen at a central manufacturing facility, then shipped out and sold at McDonald's restaurants.

Is Nugget processed meat? ›

Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

They're easy to pop in your mouth, but they're processed. There's chicken meat in them, along with bones, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, fat, and skin (although Chick-fil-A says its nuggets are made of boneless chicken breast) .

Are McNuggets healthier than burgers? ›

A small order (4-piece) of Chicken McNuggets is a healthier option than your traditional hamburger, as chicken is a naturally leaner meat than red meat due to fewer calories and fat. Although McDonald's doesn't offer a grilled version, this meal is all about proper portioning.

What is Chick Fil A chicken nuggets made of? ›

Bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken breast, seasoned to perfection, freshly breaded and pressure cooked in 100% refined peanut oil.

How chicken nuggets are made gross? ›

Many fast-food chains use a mixture of flour, sugar, salt, and other additives in their breading. Some even add ingredients like dimethyl polysiloxane, a type of silicone used in cosmetic products, to prevent the oil from foaming during frying.

Is Chick Fil A healthier than McDonald's? ›

Is Chick-Fil-A healthier than McDonald's? Since “healthy” is a subjective term, picking the healthiest option can be tough. But, in general, since Chick-Fil-A focuses on chicken, which is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than beef, we'll give the “healthier” title to Chick-Fil-A over McDonald's.

Is chicken nuggets processed meat? ›

Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

They're easy to pop in your mouth, but they're processed. There's chicken meat in them, along with bones, blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, fat, and skin (although Chick-fil-A says its nuggets are made of boneless chicken breast) .

What is processed chicken? ›

Fresh poultry, fish and beef is not processed meat. Processed meat is defined as meat preserved by smoking, curing, or salting, or by the addition of preservatives.

Where does McDonald's get their meat? ›

Today, Keystone's US operations are proud to produce and deliver the highest quality beef, chicken and fish products to McDonald's, including more than 150 million pounds of beef, 300 million pounds of chicken and 15 million pounds of fish each year.

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