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. Greg says:

    This sentence in the article is wrong…. "While there are some heart-healthy fats from nuts, one-third is the artery-clogging saturated kind" Artery-clogging?? Really?

  2. @jens2703 says:

    Maybe not healthy. But oh so good…

  3. AnnaMarie says:

    I love Nutella, but can't wait to try the Jstins Nut Butter spread. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Katie says:

    I've NEVER thought that it was healthy. But I don't care. It's delicious. I will make banana-nutella sandwiches on wheat toast, or spread it on waffles for breakfast. I've never had a weight problem, but there are a gazillion other things I could cut out of my life if I need to (like giant gas station fountain cokes).

  5. Heather says:

    I love Nutella! As with any treat or dessert it should be eaten in moderation of course…common sense should apply here. I love Giada's fried ravioli's with this yummy spread. You basically take wonton wrappers and put a dob of Nutella in the center and then fold and seal in a triangle shape. Fry until golden perfection and the Nutella is warm and slightly melty in the center. YUM! This of course I make maybe every other year for a special occasion, but when made it is worth the extra miles on the treadmill. :)

  6. Diane says:

    I am a recovering Nutella ADDICT. There was a time when I ate it by the spoonful straight out of the jar, and the entire jar was only two servings. I couldn't get enough. It was my guilty bedtime snack. Between the Nutella and my temporary ice-cream addiction, I became diabetic. Now I just look at it lovingly when I pass it on the supermarket shelf, and force myself to move-on. Just looking at the jar makes me swoon! Buyer beware!!!

  7. Crafty Mama says:

    Thanks for posting this! I LOVE Nutella, but I never thought it could be as nutritious as they make it sound. I was shocked when I saw a Nutella commercial where the mom served the kids bread with Nutella spread on it! "Hey kids, here's your sugar for breakfast, and maybe some bread, too!"

  8. Cheryl says:

    Everything in moderation, folks…. try a little on whole grain bread with smashed banana – it's yummy!.

  9. Cindy says:

    Believe it or not, I've never HAD Nutella! Not even a taste of it. And honestly, I'm scared to buy it. lol Thank goodness our store sells this on the TOP shelf (and I'm 5'2"), so I rarely even SEE it while grocery shopping.

  10. seriously says:

    Nutella= icing
    YUM!

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