You’ve always been able to skip the guilt when spreading Nutella on your morning toast because it’s advertised to be relatively healthy—you can get in your chocolate fix and not budge the scale, or so you think. But we hate to break it to you: When you look closely at all of the Nutella ingredients, it’s really not that healthy after all.
A jar only contains five ingredients: cocoa, palm oil, hazelnuts, and skimmed milk powder. Advertisers play up the fact that it’s a delicious hazelnut spread with no artificial colors or preservatives, so you feel good about eating it daily or giving it to your kids. But, what they don’t outright say is that more than half of the jar is pure sugar.
“The amount of sugar is 21 grams per serving. But let’s get real: Who only eats one serving of Nutella?” says Wesley McWhorter, MS, RD, chef and dietitian at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston. “Nutella should be treated as a dessert or treat, not as a healthy meal.” Check out these other surprising (even disgusting!) ingredients that you never realized were in your food.
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The nutrition label states that each jar contains 21 grams of sugar per 37 grams of spread. Then, the second most used ingredient is palm oil, which is solid fat. So, you’re really not getting that much hazelnut. “Nuts are great for you (good source of protein, healthy fats and fiber) but unlike peanut, almond or other nut butters most of the fat in Nutella is coming from palm oil rather than the hazelnuts themselves,” says McWhorter. Find out other foods that nutritionists never eat.
“At Ferrero, we do not believe there are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, only good and bad diets,” announced Nutella’s parent company in a recent statement. “With this in mind, we have always believed that offering small portions and educating consumers is the best way to help them enjoy their favorite treats in moderation.”
So it looks like portion control is the only way to ensure you can enjoy this delicious chocolate-y spread (if you are one of the lucky few who can just eat one portion, that is). Another option: Try healthier versions such as this organic hazelnut spread, which only has 12 grams of sugar.
Another way to get your chocolate fix? Mayo Clinic suggests adding plain cocoa to your low-fat milk, or morning oats—especially since flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease.
Did all of that information set you up for sugar shock? Relax—chocolate is also beneficial to your health—in moderation, of course.