Nutella hazelnut spread is delicious–no doubt about it. But is Nutella healthy for breakfast? Hardly. It’s more a spreadable candy bar, no mistake. As part of its marketing blitz, Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, sponsors events like the “Better Breakfast Challenge” to inform school children about nutrition and the importance of breakfast. But Nutella itself doesn’t belong as part of that–more like a dessert treat every now and then, at best.
In 2012, Ferrero settled a $3 million California class-action lawsuit that claimed Nutella’s labels were misleading pertaining to its health benefits. The settlement concluded: “In addition, Ferrero also has agreed to prospective relief by agreeing to modify the Nutella label, modify certain marketing statements about Nutella, create new television ads, and change the Nutella website.” Proposed modifications to Nutella’s marketing included labels, its website, and print ads. It appears that the website has been updated since the settlement. In case you’re wondering why Nutella isn’t such a great choice for breakfast, here is a list of its ingredients:
INGREDIENTS: SUGAR, PALM OIL, HAZELNUTS, COCOA, SKIM MILK, REDUCED MINERALS WHEY (MILK), LECITHIN AS EMULSIFIER (SOY), VANILLIN: AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR.
That’s right: the first ingredient is sugar. The last ingredient is an artificial flavor. In the middle are milk and soy (we’re betting it’s genetically modified)–both are allergens. That leaves Palm oil (okay in small doses), hazelnuts (which really are good for you), and cocoa (raw cocoa is also good for you, but with this other stuff, the nutritional value is virtually non-existent).
Here are five reasons why Nutella doesn’t belong on your breakfast table.
Ah, yes. Sugar. As a society, we’re addicted to it. It’s killing us. No one needs all this sugar for breakfast–TWENTY-ONE GRAMS–least of all kids who have enough energy as it is.
On what would you spread Nutella? A carbohydrate of some sort. Carbohydrates are complex sugars. So on top of the twenty-one grams in one serving of Nutella, add the carbs from bread, pancakes, crackers, or whatever else is holding it up. Add a glass of juice and, oh my!
A high-sugar jolt for breakfast will cause blood sugar levels to spike and then–guess what?–crash. The sugar high makes it hard to focus and concentrate and can make some people (especially children) hyper. After the crash, we feel crummy and want to either a) take a nap or b) eat more sugar.
The label used to say “modified palm oil”; that’s been changed to remove the word “modified”. From Nutella’s website: Is the palm oil in Nutella® hazelnut spread a hydrogenated oil? No. The palm oil is naturally extracted from the fruit of the palm. This palm oil is adjusted [emphasis added] to assure the best consistency for easy spreading by reducing the level of saturated fat. So what’s the difference between “adjusted” and “modified”? Hmmm. There is undeniable nutrition in palm oil but a side effect is that it causes low-grade inflammation that has been linked to insulin resistance, obesity, and metabolic disorders.
Nutrition from Hazelnuts
There may be fifty hazelnuts in a jar, but how much in a serving? There are about ten servings in a jar so a single serving of Nutella gives you five hazelnuts. Big deal. If you want the benefits of hazelnuts (which are considerable), eat hazelnuts or hazelnut butter.
Given all of the above, there are much healthier (and just as tasty) options available including oats, eggs, vegetable or yogurt smoothies, and quinoa.