Family Health


Is Nutella Healthy, Actually? What Science Says

Chocolate spread with hazelnuts isolated on white backgrounds. Nutella.

Is Nutella Healthy, Actually? What Science Says

With its creamy decadence and sweetness, one may ask, is Nutella healthy? When one sees the advertisements surrounding Nutella, especially as a healthy option to eat for breakfast and snacks, it's easy to believe so. Once touted as a healthy and natural alternative to nut butter, many may be surprised that Nutella is not necessarily as healthy as they initially thought. 

In this article, we will dive into the science behind Nutella and whether or not this creamy and sweet dessert spread is actually healthy. 

What is Nutella? 

Nutella has been advertised in the past as a healthy, natural spread to replace nut butter. Additionally, advertisements convey that Nutella is a great breakfast option for children and adults in the morning. The appealing sweet flavor excites most kids everywhere, making parents wonder if Nutella could be worth the extra expense at the grocery store.

However, you may wonder, what exactly is Nutella? In a nutshell, Nutella is a hazelnut spread. Its popularity became prevalent during World War II. During this time, there was not as much cocoa in Italy. Therefore, Pietro Ferrero came up with the idea to add hazelnuts to a chocolate spread. Its popularity has only grown, and not surprisingly so. All natural ingredients plus a sweet hazelnut flavor, it is almost too good to be true!

The classification of Nutella is as a dessert spread. On one hand, Nutella is more natural than other dessert spreads, such as icing. There is one unnatural ingredient, which is vanillin, a vanilla flavoring. Everything else in Nutella is natural, including palm oil and skim milk. However, when it comes to health, the ratio of ingredients truly matters. Therefore, let's take a closer look at what the ingredients in Nutella mean for your overall health. 

Slice of bread with chocolate swirl cream isolated on white background
Nutella is quite delicious and chocolatey. It contains hazelnuts and primarily natural ingredients. However, the ratio of ingredients is very important to consider.

©Marko Petrushevski/Shutterstock.com

Health Benefits of Nutella

Nutella contains mostly natural ingredients: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, soy lecithin, and skimmed milk powder. Apart from the natural ingredients, there is vanillin, which flavors Nutella with vanilla. 

Of the ingredients in Nutella, the ingredient that makes up the majority of the spread is sugar. The sugar that Nutella contains varies between beet sugar and refined cane sugar. Sugar is then followed by fat. With all the ingredients that co-exist inside Nutella as a spread, sugar and fat take up more than half its weight. In fact, the sugar content in Nutella makes up over 50% and comes in at 21 grams

Aside from the sugar content. Nutella does have one good thing to boast about. Most of the ingredients are natural, including hazelnuts. However, the hazelnuts make up a small percentage of Nutella ingredients. 

Downfalls of Nutella

Although Nutella contains plenty of natural ingredients, it has its fair share of downfalls.

For starters, of its ingredients, sugar makes up over half of the weight of Nutella. This in itself is a major downfall, especially when serving Nutella to children. It has a very sweet flavor, enticing to children and adults alike. Sugar can be hard to say no to. However, with the added sugar, it can contribute to health risks. 

The risks of consuming high amounts of sugar include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Obesity
  • Colon cancer 
  • Dementia and Alzheimer's

Limiting the amount of sugar you and your family consume is an excellent way to reduce the risks that come with it. 

Aside from having a high amount of sugar, Nutella does not contain many health benefits or nutrients. The amount of protein in two tablespoon spread is 2 grams, while iron and calcium are also low. 

These nutrients are not enough to counteract the sugar and fat content. 

Nutella is also high in calories. In two tablespoons, there are 200 calories.

Dessert or breakfast pizza with nutella
Nutella can be very tasty on many foods, including pizza dough with fruit, waffles, toast, and cupcakes. Although it should be limited and not consumed daily.


Nut Butters Vs. Nutella

Many enjoy Nutella as an alternative to nut butter. However, the question is, is this truly the best way to eat the dessert spread? While eating Nutella on toast or waffles is tasty, it isn't the healthier choice if this spread is consumed often. 

One reason that some believe it's a good alternative to nut butter is the presence of hazelnuts. 

Both nut butter and Nutella are higher in calories and fat. Natural nut butter contains more nutrients than Nutella, including more protein, calcium, potassium, and folate. This in itself makes them a healthier option than Nutella.

Healthy Alternatives to Nutella

Nutella has a delicious and creamy flavor and texture. However, with it's high sugar content, it may be a good idea for some to find a healthier alternative. 

If you are not avoiding nut butter, natural nut butter will contain more nutrients that benefit your overall health. 

Additionally, opting for natural and organic hazelnut spreads can give the same overall feel as Nutella without the added sugar. Just be sure to pay attention to the ingredients. 

One of the reasons that people enjoy Nutella is because it is creamy and sweet. It can be hard to beat the flavor and texture of Nutella! Therefore, try one of these choices if you are searching for a good alternative.

chocolate spread with knife on white table
As a decadent dessert spread, Nutella can be a healthier choice. However, if you are looking for a healthy breakfast or snack option, Nutella is not the ideal choice.

©Jiri Hera/Shutterstock.com

Key Takeaways 

Nutella is a delicious and chocolatey dessert spread that is wonderful in moderation. However, it can be confusing when a food is touted as a healthy alternative. This is why it is essential to take a look at the ingredients and how much is in the product. Here are several key takeaways when it comes to Nutella.

  • Nutella was initially created to give people more cocoa options during a cocoa shortage.
  • This hazelnut spread contains more sugar than any other added ingredient. 
  • Every ingredient is natural in Nutella except for one. This is vanillin, a synthetic vanilla flavoring.
  • Sugar can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, certain cancers, and diabetes.
  • Sugar should be consumed in moderation. 
  • Nutella also does not contain many essential nutrients, and the ones it does contain are minimal. 
  • Nutella is high in calories, coming in at around 200 for two tablespoons.
  • Nutella also has a higher amount of fat, making it a not-so-healthy dessert spread. 

So, Is Nutella Healthy?

The answer to this question is: no, it is not. Since Nutella has been touted as a healthy and all-natural alternative to nut butter, it can be easy to believe it is a healthier alternative. However, Nutella contains over 50% of its weight in sugar, which in itself is unhealthy. The ingredients that Nutella contains are, in fact, natural. Therefore, as a dessert spread, Nutella is a healthier option than many icings and other desserts, but only by a small percentage. Also, the overabundance of sugar and fat makes Nutella a less healthy food option and more of a sweet treat that people should enjoy in moderation. Eating Nutella daily for breakfast would be like spreading cake icing on your whole wheat toast; it would be counterintuitive.

If you want delicious alternatives to Nutella, try one of the sugar-free options above. Otherwise, if you enjoy a good treat that is yummy in moderation, try this Banana Cupcake Recipe with Nutella Ganache

To top