Those TV commercials for Nutella Hazelnut Chocolate Spread drive me crazy! They try to convey that it’s the greatest health food since brown rice! And that it’s such a good choice for your kids!

Well it’s not!

Here is the commercial I’ve been seeing over and over:

Ingredients and Nutritional Data from the Nutella USA website

nutella jar

sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor.

Serving size: 2 tbsp (37 g)
Calories 200
Calories from Fat 100
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 3.5 g
Sodium 15 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 21 g
Protein 3 g
Calcium 4%
Iron 4%

How About Some Sugar For Breakfast

Whoa, 21 grams of sugar!!! Duh, no surprise, of course that’s why kids love Nutella! You might as well melt half a Snickers candy bar on top of some whole wheat toast! Does a candy bar sound like a healthy choice for your kids’ breakfast? No? Well, then why is Nutella considered as healthy? It’s sort of like the cereal companies touting that because their product contains whole grains, it’s healthy, but it’s still loaded with refined sugar!

Palm Oil

I don’t like their use of palm oil. I mean, come on! It’s 2nd on the ingredients list, before hazelnuts!

Now, I’m not knocking palm oil necessarily. I need to do some additional research on its benefits and possibly how it’s destroying the rain forests, but nutritionally, it seems similar to coconut oil. I am constantly cooking with coconut oil, which is a highly saturated fat food product. I’m not afraid of plant-based saturated fats, but I AM afraid of processed foods containing them.

Unless it’s virgin or extra-virgin, coconut oil can be very unhealthy, due to the way it’s processed/refined. As I said, I’m just beginning to research on palm oil, and I haven’t been able to find out exactly how it’s processed, but I’m assuming that the palm oil in Nutella is highly refined and nowhere close to virgin.

Which is it? Palm Oil or Modified Palm Oil?

It is very strange, but Nutella used to list palm oil as “modified palm oil” on their list of ingredients.

So, I did some googling and found this article from treehugger.com

They quote directly from the Nutella web site:

Is the modified palm oil in Nutella® hydrogenated?
No. The modified palm oil is a mix of the liquid and solid oil naturally extracted from the fruit of the palm. The mix is adjusted to assure the best consistency for easy spreading. The process also reduces the level of saturated fat. Per serving Nutella® has 0 gram transfat

This is what Nutella’s web site FAQ states now:

Is the Palm Oil in Nutella® a hydrogenated oil?
No. The palm oil is naturally extracted from the fruit of the palm. This palm oil is adjusted to assure the best consistency for easy spreading by reducing the level of saturated fat.

It still sounds like they “modified” the oil, doesn’t it? ADJUSTED to assure the best consistency? And notice the phrase “naturally extracted” – I don’t believe the word “natural” has any concrete meaning when it comes to food, in fact, it’s probably the most misused misleading word on a label!

I’ve been trying to find anything online that explains the sudden change in ingredient wording, but have come up empty. I have to assume it’s a slight change in their manufacturing process allowed them to remove the word “modified”.

Is Palm Oil a Sustainable Responsible Choice?

There is a lot of information online claiming that palm oil refinement is destroying the rain forests. I don’t want to start listing the specifics, but it does seem like it’s a food product that should be avoided.

What does Nutella say about it?

Does Ferrero support responsible palm oil use?
Yes. As a member of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), Ferrero only uses palm oil which is extracted from controlled plantations in Malaysia.

Now, if you believe the treehugger.com article, then it’s doubtful that the “RSPO” is even a legitimate environmental group.

From Treehugger:

Many organizations no longer recognize the RSPO as being legitimate. In November, 80 organizations from 31 countries sent an open letter that included the following:

Destructive oil palm plantations have been certified in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and the same greenwashing exercise has started in Colombia, Thailand and Ghana.

We are deeply concerned that RSPO certification is being used to legitimise an expansion in the demand for palm oil and thus in oil palm plantation, and it serves to greenwash the disastrous social and environmental impacts of the palm oil industry. The RSPO standards do not exclude clear cutting of many natural forests, the destruction of other important ecosystems, nor plantings on peat. The RSPO certifies plantations which impact on the livelihoods of local communities and their environments. The problems are exacerbated by the in-built conflict of interest in the system under which a company wanting to be certified commissions another company to carry our the assessment.

So similar to Perdue Chickens bogus USDA Process Verification! haha!

Bottom line, it sounds like we should be steering clear of palm oil and products containing palm oil!

Nothing Artificial Except Some Flavoring!

I love how they clearly brag about no added artificial colors or preservatives, but they have the nerve to include artificial vanilla flavoring! How silly sneaky is that!

Don’t Believe the Nutella Marketing Hype

Please don’t believe the Nutella marketing! It’s not at all healthy! It’s a poor sugar-laden choice for breakfast! And it’s not good for the environment! Avoid, avoid avoid!

Instead, try some homemade oatmeal or toast topped with nut butter (no sugar, oils added) or how about making your own healthy version of chocolate nut butter! Recipes are found all over online!

Other web resources: