Chocolate Hazelnut Spread: Is it Healthy?

by in Is It Healthy?, August 20, 2011
nutella
Is this stuff actually good for you?

Clever marketing has attempted to convince consumers that chocolate-hazelnut spreads make a nutritious breakfast. Can this chocolaty delight be a healthy part of any meal?

Yes?

Manufacturers tout that this creamy spread contains wholesome ingredients like hazelnuts and skim milk — and it does. There’s actually not much else to it, only a couple of other ingredients make up the recipe — but that’s where things start to get messy.

No?
The first 2 ingredients listed on the label of chocolate-hazelnut spreads are sugar, followed by palm oil, which means these ingredients out-weigh all others. When you break down the numbers you’ll find it contains 100 calories per tablespoon and more than 50-percent of that comes from fat. While there are some heart-healthy fats from nuts, one-third is the artery-clogging saturated kind. As for the sugar, it’s not looking much better – nearly 5 teaspoons per serving!

Most brands also include thickeners such as soy lecithin. While this food additive is considered safe, folks with soy allergies should be aware.

The Verdict

Just a smidge is all you need! While magically delicious, this choco-nutty spread isn’t to be confused with straight up health food (like natural peanut butter for instance). Use this product sparingly and preferably along with nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruit and whole grains. Always read ingredient labels carefully to get the real facts.

Tell Us: What’s your take on chocolate hazelnut spreads?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (192)

  1. sarabearsd says:

    I've never tried it, but thanks for making me more aware of what's out there!

    • maria24409 says:

      its very good definitely have to try it if u like hazel nut and chocolate :)

    • Sherry says:

      If you feed your children this junk, you might be accused of child abuse. Sickeningly sweet and loaded w/sugar. Just what your active child needs! Yuck!

  2. I agree regarding Nutella. However, I buy Justins's brand, which lists hazelnuts as the first ingredient. Tastes delicious. I still do consider it more of a treat though.

    • southernwoman9 says:

      Yes, Justin's brand is great. It has very little or no added sugars or oils, so it is much more haelthy than Nutella, which has as much sugar per ounce as cake frosting!

  3. roblexky says:

    I love to spread about a tsp of Nutella on a small whole wheat tortilla, top with sliced strawberries, roll up and enjoy. This is not an everyday snack, but certainly one that you will look forward to!

  4. monique says:

    easy to make your own

    • Marta Mahlke says:

      you have a recipe for making Nutella? If so would you please share? I know I coud experiment but it would be a lot easier to at least have a starting point. I love Nutella although I know it isn't very good for me.

      • sandra says:

        I have made this and it is almost as good as Nutella, not as fattening but you have to refrigerate this recipe…enjoy…Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
        Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)
        2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
        1 cup powdered sugar
        1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
        up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
        1/2 tsp vanilla extract
        1.Preheat oven to 350° F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
        2.To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins come off, but don’t worry if some remain.
        3.Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter!
        4.When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
        5.Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.

      • sandra says:

        I have made this and it is almost as good as Nutella, not as fattening but you have to refrigerate this recipe…enjoy…Chocolate-Hazelnut SpreadI have made this and it is almost as good as Nutella, not as fattening but you have to refrigerate this recipe…enjoy…
        Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
        Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)
        2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
        1 cup powdered sugar
        1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
        up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
        1/2 tsp vanilla extract
        1.Preheat oven to 350° F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
        2.To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins come off, but don’t worry if some remain.
        3.Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter!
        4.When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
        5.Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.

      • niki says:

        Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (makes 1 1/4 cups)
        1 Cup Hazelnuts
        1/4 Cup Agave or Honey
        2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
        3 Tbsp Hot Water
        1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
        2. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes.
        3. Remove hazelnuts to a kitchen towel, cover and rub to remove the hazelnut skins.
        4. Place hazelnuts in a food processor and chop for 30 seconds.
        5. Add the remaining ingredients and puree.

    • Nat says:

      thanks for sharing!

  5. maria24409 says:

    i love this spread i havent had it for a while but it is definitely a good tasteful treat.

  6. sarah says:

    this stuff is definitely NOT good for you. it should be eaten in moderation, not daily. it's basically frosting but people are led to believe it's harmless. please be careful, everyone.

    • Sherry says:

      This is definitely not a healthy alternative to a good breakfast such as oatmeal etc. Moms may find it a very convenient way to give kids a snack for school. It's loaded w/sugar and that can't be too good for anyone.

  7. Linda Yawn says:

    This spread is very good,could eat the whole jar but you have got to have limits.

  8. tifany tam says:

    does anyone have a recipe for nutella? if you make your own it will be better for you. (but still have to eat only small amounts)

    • sandra says:

      I have made this and it is almost as good as Nutella, not as fattening but you have to refrigerate this recipe…enjoy…
      Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
      Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)
      2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
      1 cup powdered sugar
      1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
      up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
      1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      1.Preheat oven to 350° F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
      2.To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins come off, but don’t worry if some remain.
      3.Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter!
      4.When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
      5.Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.

    • eri says:

      Look up Bobby Flay's Banana-Nutella Grilled Sandwich. It's soooo good! Got it from Food Network emails so you should find it on this site.

    • michelle says:

      Hey Tiffany: want to make Nutella even more calorie-laden? Take wonton wrappers, and place about a teaspoon of Nutella inside…Fold over into a triangle, sealing the ends, and deep fry for about 45 seconds at 350…Drain off oil and sprinkle with powdered sugar!

  9. Stacie says:

    A better alternative is dark chocolate almond butter. It has less sugar and more healthful ingredients.

  10. asdfghjkl; says:

    Nutella is proof that God exists and wants us to be happy. In my opinion, at least.

    But seriously, it's isn't healthy, but the taste to me is worth it. :P

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