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Chicken nuggets put to the test: taste vs. health

/ Source: The Associated Press

Consumer Reports put chicken nuggets to the test and found many brands are loaded with salt and fat.

After evaluating 14 supermarket brands of refrigerated and frozen chicken nuggets — including two chicken-like nuggets made from soy — Consumer Reports Health said that choosing a healthier nugget will mean sacrificing flavor.

While none of the 14 brands received a "poor" nutritional rating from the health website, which is associated with Consumer Reports magazine, the only brand to get a "very good" nutrition rating — Health is Wealth — didn't get high marks in taste.

The site also urged consumers not to be misled by brands that are advertised as natural or organic, terms that aren't necessarily indicators of nutritious foods.

For instance, Consumer Reports said that while Tyson accurately claims its chicken nuggets are "100 percent all natural," one serving (about 3 to 4 ounces) of its nuggets has 270 calories, 17 grams of fat and 470 milligrams of sodium.

It's generally recommended that people consume fewer than 65 grams of fat and 2,300 milligrams a sodium a day.

Consumer Reports gave Tyson's nuggets a "fair" rating for nutrition.

"Whatever the claims that are being made, you definitely want to turn to the nutritional panel on the product and see if it matches what you're looking for," said Gayle Williams, deputy editor of Consumer Reports Health.

Oliver pushed nuggets into the news recently when he made them on his ABC reality program, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution." He thought the process of grinding up the chicken parts would gross out the children he made them for, but they ate them eagerly.

Of the 14 items tested, only Health is Wealth received a "very good" nutritional rating, with 130 calories, 4 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Testers, however, didn't care for the taste.

"There's the rub. The brand may be more nutritious than others, but if your kids won't eat it, what good is it?" said Williams.

On taste, three brands earned a "very good" rating: Market Pantry (from Target, which told the magazine it was changing its formulation), Bell & Evans Breaded and Kirkland Signature Disney (Costco). Each received a "good" nutritional rating.

And McDonald's nuggets? The site asked children to compare them against the others. McDonald's came out on top, but earned only a "fair" nutrition rating.