This post on Nutella has garnered a remakable amount of attention, mostly negative and mostly of the hate-mail-troll variety – so to all of you, welcome! And those of you who are actually looking for a reason to break this habit, I hope to be able to help.
I have never been one to say to you ‘eat this, don’t eat that’. Well, actually, I’m sure I have now and again. My goal, however, is not to dictate what you should or shouldn’t be doing in any aspect of your life, but to offer you some guidance to help you make the best possible decisions to help you live an optimally healthy life.
And so with that in mind, I will offer you this: Nutella is nutritionally void and shouldn’t be at the breakfast table. Actually, it shouldn’t be at snack time, lunchtime, after school or melted over your ice cream.
It’s a shame because Nutella does such great work helping fund school lunch programs and bringing awareness to the number of kids going to school without breakfast, it’s just a shame that these breakfasts include Nutella.
When a child’s breakfast is made up of Nutella spread over white bread, or thrown into a tortilla with a banana, he or she is priming the brain and body for a crash. Breakfasts such as these will in no way support the learning or optimal behaviour.
High sugar intake first thing in the morning will spike blood sugar levels, resulting in a plummet mid morning and contribute to poor concentration, hyper activity and aggression.
This “hazelnut spread” that looks suspiciously like thick chocolate sauce (or a spreadable candy bar) is healthwashed to pieces as a healthy breakfast option for kids. It’s not breakfast, it’s a dessert and a questionable one at that. Call a dessert a dessert and move on, or be sued!
In the United States, Ferrero, maker of Nutella, was sued in a class action lawsuit for false advertising that led some to believe that Nutella carries nutritional and health benefits, being touted as ‘part of a nutritious breakfast’. They were sued for healthwashing! In April 2012, they paid $3 million to customers who were part of the claim. The settlement also required Ferrero to make changes to Nutella’s labelling and marketing.
What exactly these changes were are unclear.
sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, lecithin, and vanillin
At the time of this writing, Nutella contains 70% saturated fat and processed sugar by weight. A two-tablespoon (37 gram) serving of Nutella contains 200 calories including:
- 99 calories from 11 grams of fat (3.5g of which are saturated)
- 80 calories from 21 grams of sugar
In addition, the spread contains 15mg of sodium and just two sad little grams of protein per serving. Now given that I am a huge advocate of fat fuelling your morning, the fat content in here wouldn’t be a problem if it were from a quality source. Modified palm oil, however, is far from quality. It is one of the more damaging types of fats we can consume. And don’t even get me started on that amount of sugar.
Two tablespoons of Nutella contain 21 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 5 teaspoons of sugar.
There’s no reason breakfast can’t be both healthy and delicious, but serving up sugar, modified vegetable oils and processed chocolate in the morning just isn’t the way to go.
Five reasons Nutella should be banned from your breakfast table:
1. The First Ingredient is Sugar
Despite the lovely visual of hazelnuts tumbling across the screen in the television commercial, the first ingredient in Nutella is plain old white, refined, most likely GMO sugar. Hazelnuts make their appearance after sugar and palm oil. If we were to name this spread appropriately, we might call it ‘sugar palm oil spread’, but that doesn’t have the right ring to it. Unless you’re choosing to hop off your health train while on holidays in Paris, there’s no reason to choose Nutella for breakfast.
More on sugar here:
- Are You Addicted to Sugar?
- Being Sugar-Free: Two Years and Counting
- Listen: How Quitting Sugar Can Transform Your Health (And Maybe Your Life)
2. More Sugar with Your Sugar?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re probably not spreading Nutella on celery sticks. It’s going on toast (probably the gluten-packed white kind) or crepes/pancakes (ditto). When the sugar from the refined carbohydrates meets the sugar from the chocolate spread, boom – there goes your energy and blood sugar balance for the day. Breakfasts such as these will in no way support the learning of children.
Nutella is a spreadable candy bar.
High sugar intake first thing in the morning will spike blood sugar levels, resulting in a plummet mid morning and may contribute to poor concentration, hyper activity and aggression.
3. The Second Ingredient is Modified Vegetable Oils
You know how we feel about those, right? Vegetables don’t make oil, which means these so-called “vegetable oils” need to go through a heck of a lot of processing in order to become Nutella. We love fat, but it needs to come from natural, unprocessed sources, otherwise we are eating refined oils that only serve to promote inflammation in the body and challenge our heart, liver, brain, endocrine and nervous systems to function efficiently.
In my book UnDiet I wrote the following:
These oils are highly processed and most commonly genetically modified, unless specifically labeled organic. Many of them, such as cottonseed and soy, carry loads of chemicals. The high heat processing destroys any nutrients that may naturally occur like vitamin E and omega-3 essential fatty acids. To make margarine the spreadable consistency people seem to dig, the oil must be hardened.
This is done by hydrogenation or bubbling hydrogen through the vegetable oil at high temperature, a process that enables it to be solid at room temperature. This is the same property that makes it perfect as frosting on cakes. When the carbon bonds are saturated with hydrogen, the product is called a saturated fat or a hydrogenated oil.
4. The Whole Package Is Not in the Jar
Treats are awesome. There’s nothing wrong with making something delicious and amazing and sharing it with your loved ones, especially when you’re celebrating a special occasion. If you are actually looking for a healthy spread, Nutella is not it. You are better off running some hazelnut through your food processor and adding a little honey and pinch of salt. Toss in some cacao if you want the chocolate vibe. But check this comparison.
Nutella vs. Hazelnuts
Per 1 Tbsp (19 grams)/ Approx 14 hazelnuts
Nutella: 100 / Hazelnuts: 94
Nutella: 1 gram / Hazelnuts: 3 grams
Nutella: 6 grams / Hazelnuts: 11.5 grams
Nutella: 11 grams
1 gram from Fibre
11 grams from Sugar
Hazelnuts: 3 grams
2 grams from Fibre
0.85 grams from Sugar
Nutella: 10 % (RDI)
Hazelnuts: 42% (RDI)
Remember, the fat in hazelnuts is the really awesomely delicious brain-building and nervous system supportive variety.
5. There Are Better Options Out There
Why start your day with processed chocolate spread when you can start it with amazing oatmeal or a smoothie or even pastured eggs? If your answer is “because it’s delicious,” that choice is yours, but your answer shouldn’t be “because it’s the healthiest option.” Yes, it’s important for us to eat things that we enjoy. But enjoyable food can still be health-promoting.
Here are just a few awesome special occasion breakfast recipes:
- Baked Apple Gingerbread Cake
- The Best Banana Pancakes
- Chocolate, Chocolate Say It Twice Pancakes
- Tie Dye Breakfast Parfaits
- Banana Hemp Faux-Gurt
- Egg-Free French Toast
- Cherry Banana Bonanza
If what you are seeking is the quick and easy, I have loads more ideas here.
Better Than Nutella Chocolate Spread
If you’ve read until here, hopefully you are feeling inspired to ditch the Nutella once and for all and give some alternatives a try. This is my favourite chocolate spread, which also works great as an icing on cake, muffins – anywhere you’d use Nutella.Print
Hemp Chocolate Spread
- Total Time: 8 mins
- Yield: 1 cup or 8 servings 1x
First shared via the Academy of Culinary Nutrition is a dairy-free and nut-free nutella alternative.
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- ⅓ cup raw cacao
- 1/4 cup dry roasted hazenuts (omit for nut-free)
- ¼ cup ghee or coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp honey
- pinch of sea salt
- Process all ingredients together until smooth. Add more sweetener as desired to taste.
- Prep Time: 8 mins
- Category: Condiment
- Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are mostly fat and protein. The ratio of omega 3 to 6 is ideal as an anti-inflammatory agent and the easily digestible plant proteins make hemp seeds a superfood for brain health and nervous system nourishment.
- Raw Cacao: Having less caffeine than its roasted counterpart, raw cacao lets us take advantage of the powerful anandamide, a plant chemical that translates as bliss in the brain. Combine that with the high antioxidant concentration and magnesium to help relax the smooth muscles of the body, and you’ll be laughing at this goodness – literally!
- Ghee or Coconut Oil: The medium chain saturated fats found in both ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil are super brain fuel. These fats provide a steady flow of energy to the body and the brain that help us to feel energized in a calming way – without the spikes and crashes. As far as a spread goes, I also love that both ghee and coconut oil are relatively solid at room temperature, but sweetly melt when spread on warm bread or a muffin.
- Raw Honey: Raw honey is my go-to sweetener of choice as it’s available locally in Toronto, and is jam packed with anti-microbial phytonutrients, enzymes and B-Vitamins (or should I say bee vitamins?).
Note: Feature photo at the top of the post comes from this Mashable article. Possible the best thing on the internet. Original photo credit is Nutella. We’re all confused about that.
22 responses to “5 Reasons Nutella Should Be Banned From Your Breakfast Table”
Thanks for explaining why Nutella isn’t healthy so clearly. When you understand it’s a lot easier to try another option (which you’ve also provided). Love your whole foods recipes!
Very true! Educating works a whole lot better than preaching :)
Add to that very convincing list of reasons to steer clear of Nutella is the issue of where the palm oil comes from. Was it sustainably farmed or linked to deforestation and the near extinction of animals like the orangutan, tiger, elephant and rhino? Great post, thank you.
I grew up eating Nutella in Germany during the 60’s and stopped eating it for almost 20 years. I know how bad it is and love it. Your article has pushed me make this my last jar in the cabinet and will try your recipe. And, yes, it is a candy bar. I never thought of it as something nutritious. Thank you for helping kick this habit.
I like it as it tastes better than some chocolate bars. Now I know why my doctors said no on nutella.
They do advertize it is better for you. No it isn’ t. Won’ t buy any more that is for sure.
Ur post hits the right spot!!! Couldnt have written anything better as it covers everything!! Ppl dont want to see the -ve part as its delicious!
You don’t mention the vanillin, lecithin, and whey – I hear they are awful too. Is that true? I am trying to find reputable sources to understand this all. You did a great job explaining the rest so I thought I would ask.
I wonder if those ingredients land in the product in some countries and not others. I didn’t see them in the ingredient list I looked up. Lecithin is often derived from gentically modified soy and used as an emulsifier to keep the oil from separating. I address vanillin in this post about Soylent. And whey is a byproduct of the dairy industry and is prone to causing digestive upset or other allergenic responses in anyone who is sensitive to dairy.
Are the organic ones any better?? For example biona brand
I’m not familiar with it but the ingredient label will tell you the story.
I have a couple of hard-core Nutella fans in the form of 4- and 7-year old daughters. They were introduced to it when we were staying at an all-inclusive hotel in Mexico – of all places – where it was a staple at the breakfast buffet. I refused to buy it for them when we returned from our trip, knowing the ingredients, but I wanted to share the alternative we came across at the local organic grocer. It’s a brand called New World Natural Foods, and the only ingredients are organic hazelnuts and organic fair trade dark chocolate (which includes organic cane sugar, but one serving only has 4g of sugar, which is acceptable in my books). My kids love it, and although it’s not quite as healthy as making your own, it’s a good stand-in when you’re in a pinch :)
Thank you Acia! I will be looking for this tomorrow :) I would love to be able to swap this out for the evil Nutella I have at home :(
And big thank you to Meghan too for enlightening me :) Very easy to understand.
Great post exposing the truth behind this wicked product. I wouldn’t eat it even if given for free. I am appalled at how credulous people buy this product without much thought. If Sugar wasn’t bad enough, Palm oil loaded with Trans fats forms a major chunk of the composition in Nutella. The other seemingly salubrious ingredients aren’t any good either, Soy lecithin is deleterious to one’s thyroid health. It is saddening that Corporates are minting money out of people’s naïvete.
Why is the most important thing not mentioned as the main problem? The calories… that’s all that matters. Not the sugar, fat, etc. It’s way too calorie dense. You are in fact doing a form of healthwashing yourself…
Of course calories count, but where they come from matters a whole lot more. You may be interested in reading more. Here’s one article you may enjoy: http://drhyman.com/blog/2014/04/10/calories-dont-matter/
Sigh. Another ridiculous article attributing value judgements to a food and demonizing it as “bad” vs. “good”. The same nonsense that perpetuates headlines that sugar is toxic, with weak science to back up such claims. Nutella is far from the epitome of nutritious food, but claiming it should be banned because it is somehow bad (and yes, that is the clear implication of the article – be honest) is utter nonsense and a mere value judgement. Like anything it’s a guilty indulgence and if kept in moderation is a perfectly fine treat. Our children are faced with a society filled with such foods, so should we ban them all? That’s no solution. Instead, maybe we should teach our kids how to incorporate these foods as a small part of their diets, something they enjoy, but appreciating that it should not form the brunt of their diets. I’ve done that with mine and they are fit, healthy and athletic. They do not go through life suffering from social anxiety that a food they are eating might be bad or good. They understand that there is a spectrum of highly nutritious foods on one end, those that are not so on the other and everything in between. They understand they should should choose to eat mostly from the highly nutritious end of the spectrum. They respect food and yes, indulge on occasion . That’s a recipe for a stable and healthy relationship with food.
Or we can teach our children about why this isn’t a food we have in our home and explain why. Educating children truthfully about quality food and where it comes from isn’t breeding social anxiety, but social responsibility. It’s simply education. Give them the facts and let them make their own decisions. In case you are curious, the toxicity of sugar is actually supported by incredibly accurate science. You may find this article interesting– it also includes loads of references to peer-reviewed journals.
Thank you for this article on #NUTELLA ,I am so disgusted, Mr Ferrero is not so nice after all, they don’t care that children are eating this unhealthy concoction, hate to see the #palm oil being given to little ones, I wonder if the Ferrero family let their children eat it?
My independent chocolate company makes a healthy Nutella equivalent (or improvement!) using just 4 organic ingredients: whole cacao beans, hazelnuts, coconut sugar, and unrefined virgin coconut oil. Check it out! https://fireflychocolate.com/product/dark-chocolate-hazelnut-spread/
Am so grateful for the info. on Nutella, i had bought it twice for my kids and never did because its too sweet and the ingredients seems very fake when i have tried it personally. anymore recipes on homemade spread is so welcome. thanks in advanced..
It’s in the trash!!