What Is Nutella?
Nutella is a popular chocolate hazelnut spread that can be used along with a variety of other foods. You can enjoy it on top of ice cream, inside baked goods, or it can be eaten plain. It is a very indulgent food that was originally categorized as a dessert topping.
Marketing strategies have shifted their focus to categorizing nutella as a breakfast topping, similar to that of jams, jellies, and nut butters. Regardless of whether or not someone chooses to consume nutella as part of a dessert or with breakfast, it is important to be cognizant of the sugar and calorie content.
What are the Ingredients?
There are only seven ingredients found in nutella. These include sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk powder, soy lecithin, and vanillin.
Sugar is listed as the first ingredient, therefore there is a lot of it present compared to the other ingredients listed. It is primarily sourced from beets, with 80% derived from beet sugar and 20% derived from refined cane sugar.
The palm oil and cocoa used are certified sustainable. The palm oil can be traced back to the mills, ensuring that it does not come from plantations contributing to deforestation.
The hazelnuts are freshly sourced from Italy, Turkey, Chile, and the USA. They are roasted prior to being processed into a paste form.
Lecithin is a natural emulsifier that causes a creaminess texture. The lecithin that is used originated from either soy beans or sunflowers.
Vanillin is a component that is extracted from the vanilla bean.
A serving of 2 tbsp contains around 200 calories and 21 grams of sugar. There is only around 2 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat. There are no significant amounts of essential vitamins or minerals present.
There are a few positive aspects of nutella.
It has a deliciously sweet and creamy texture that tastes great along with any sweet treat or by itself. There are fewer ingredients listed, compared to most processed and ultra-processed foods. It doesn’t contain artificial ingredients which makes it easy for consumers to read the food label.
The palm oil and cocoa used in the product are certified sustainable which is a huge concern for conservation efforts in trying to minimize deforestation.
As many people know, high fructose corn syrup is highly prevalent in processed foods in the US. Nutella does not contain this ingredient, but does of course contain added sugar.
There are a number of reasons why nutella should not be a staple to help aid in weight loss. The serving size listed on a container is 2 tbsp, which contains around 200 calories and 21 grams of sugar. There is also very little nutritional value, so we can think of this food as containing “empty calories”.
Different sources of sugar are metabolized in the body similarly. Therefore, there essentially isn’t a “healthy” form of sugar. However, there are important differences between natural sources of sugar, such as from fruits and vegetables, and added sugars. Natural sugars are often found in foods that also contain dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Added sugars provide no nutritional value to a food or beverage.
Added sugar consumption in excess is associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their added sugar intake to no more than 6% of total calories consumed. This comes out to being around 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons of sugar for men. For reference, a serving size of nutella contains around 4 teaspoons of added sugar. It is estimated that Americans consume more than 300% of the recommended amount of sugar on a daily basis.
Weight Loss Tips
When it comes to weight loss, it is necessary for one to be in a caloric deficit. This aligns with the concept that more calories need to be burned than calories that are consumed. However, this idea fails to take into account the quality of diet and how this can impact one’s health as well.
Make sure that you pay attention to portion size with all foods and beverages because calories can add up, especially in sauces, dressings, and spreads. Instead of consuming a 2 tbsp serving of nutella, consider having just 1 tbsp. You can mix it with foods that are higher in protein or fiber such as Greek yogurt, nuts, and fruits. Refer to this blog about snacks that fill you up that has great ideas for filling snacks!
Consider eating nut butters as a substitute instead, such as peanut butter or almond butter. These have a higher protein content and contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals. A
2 tbsp serving of peanut butter contains over 7 grams of protein and only around 3 grams of sugar. A 2 tbsp serving of almond butter also contains over 7 grams of protein and only around 2 grams of sugar.
If you like the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, then there are ways that you can make your own “healthy” version of this spread. This blog has a great vegan recipe that only includes four ingredients. There is another great recipe in this blog that substitutes sugar for dates.
Things to Remember
Always pay attention to food labels. Just because a food item is marketed a certain way does not guarantee that it is actually healthy. Nutella has been marketed as a breakfast item the past several years which can impact how a consumer perceives this product to be an acceptable food option. However, the answer lies in the ingredients list and food label.
There are other healthier breakfast options that one should consider when trying to lose weight. It’s important to choose foods that are higher in protein and dietary fiber. These can include foods such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, oats, and fruit. There is nothing wrong with adding nutella to some of these types of foods, such as yogurt or fruit, to make them more appealing. However, remain cognizant of your added sugar and caloric intake throughout the day.
It is perfectly fine to indulge in a sweet treat every once in a while. There is no reason why you should have to give up your favorite food item!
Comment below on the favorite foods you love to pair with nutella. Yum!