Why You Should Think Twice Before Eating Nutella

You've probably enjoyed some Nutella — a chocolate hazelnut spread — on toast, waffles, or ice cream, or any number of decadent desserts. Or perhaps you're a glutton for the Nutter Butter/Nutella dip combo. But have you ever wondered why exactly Nutella is so delectable and addicting? 

Its ingredients are sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, skim milk, cocoa, lecithin, and vanillin, according to the Nutella website. The ingredients are listed in order of how much is in the food product — meaning Nutella has a lot of sugar.

One serving of Nutella is two tablespoons, which contains 200 calories, 11 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbs, and 21 grams of sugar. That's a lot of calories, fat, sugar, and carbs. 

Eating too much sugar or fat is detrimental to your health. Women should limit sugar intake to six teaspoons a day and men to nine teaspoons a day (via the American Heart Association). One serving of Nutella has about five teaspoons of sugar.

Saturated fats should be limited to about five to six percent of your calorie intake. If your calorie intake is 2,000 a day, your saturated fat intake should be 13 grams or less (via the American Heart Association). Nutella has 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving, and a closer look at palm oil tells a whole other story.

The truth about palm oil and Nutella

Palm oil comes from the fruit of oil palm trees or the "Elaeis guineensis." It's what gives Nutella that creamy texture because it becomes semi-solid at room temperature. Palm oil comes with a litany of both environmental and health problems.

Palm oil is a major contributor to deforestation, destroying habitats of animals that are already endangered. Palm oil also contributes to greenhouse gasses, climate change, and there are also concerns about child labor (via the World Wide Fund for Nature).

Thankfully, Nutella has a certification from the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO. The RSPO certification confirms that the palm oil Nutella sources is currently sustainable. 

However, the health consequences associated with palm oil are reason for concern. Like all oils, palm oil is 100 percent fat, but it contains a lot more saturated fat than other oils. Kris Sollid, RD, told Verywell Fit that palm oil is about 50 percent saturated fat. In comparison, soybean oil is 15 percent saturated fat, olive oil is about 14 percent saturated fat, and canola oil is about 7 percent saturated fat. One serving of Nutella gives you about 70 percent of your daily saturated fat. 

The bottom line? Nutella is a tasty treat you can enjoy in moderation, or better yet, rarely, like any other food or drink high in calories, sugar, and fat. Fill your diet primarily with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans. And then, enjoy a little Nutella from time to time.