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Nuggets Contain 60 Pct Chicken Fat, Muscles, Blood Vessels and Nerves

Update Date: Oct 05, 2013 01:00 AM EDT

Ever wondered what's actually in a nugget, or ever been afraid to find out? Researchers have done an "autopsy" on nuggets from various popular fast food chains in the States and the results are not appetizing.

According to researchers from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, 40 to 50 percent of the nuggets from large chain stores in Jackson, Mississippi, were meat, and the rest was fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments.

"We all know white chicken meat to be one of the best sources of lean protein available and encourage our patients to eat it," lead author Dr. Richard D. deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said.

"What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it and still call it chicken," deShazo told Reuters Health.

"It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them."

The researchers selected one nugget from each box, preserved, dissected and stained the nuggets, then looked at them under a microscope. "The nugget from the first restaurant was composed of approximately 50 percent skeletal muscle, with the remainder composed primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present. Higher-power views showed generous quantities of epithelium and associated supportive tissue including squamous epithelium from skin or viscera," Dr. deShazo wrote.

"The nugget from the second restaurant was composed of approximately 40 percent skeletal muscle. Here, too, there were generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules."

Dr. deShazo said the nuggets he examined would be okay to eat occasionally, but he worries that since they are cheap, convenient and taste good, kids eat them often. However, moderation is key.

The study, titled "The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads 'Chicken Little'" was published in the American Journal of Medicine.

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