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Gotta Tella about Nutella

Nutella pronounced new-tell-uh, was not around when I was growing up. It came into the market around 2000 as the healthy chocolate. Everything is healthy in moderation, when overeating occurs, so does toxicity.

I was surprised to see Nutella used frequently in France. The French seem to love Nutella crepes, macarons, and croissants. I thought to myself that if the French are eating Nutella then it must be good for you. After all the French take pride in eating all things fresh and all things good for the body and soul.

I later found out that the European version of Nutella is different than the American version, there is no palm oil added to the European brand. So it is not only India that is sold substandard items — we of course get the American version

Nutella is marketed to be healthy because it is made up of hazelnuts but after looking at the ingredient list I knew otherwise. The first ingredient is sugar and in case you were not aware — ingredients must be listed in order of proportion of the total content. Ok, I should have the common sense to know this fact, but as always it hits you after seeing it in print.

The second ingredient is modified palm oil. The nutella website does not explain how it is modified but after doing some research I found that modified palm oil is fractionated oil. Fractionated basically means that the palm oil has had some saturated fats removed from it to smooth the texture, and make it more liquid. Modified is not the same as hydrogenated. Adding hydrogens to a fat makes it more solid and longer lasting. Fractionation makes it more flexible of a fat and more fluid.

The third ingredient finally is hazelnuts. These nuts are not so popular in India but in Europe and the US these nuts give flavor to everything from coffee to ice cream. In addition to flavor, hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, dietary fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins. They also have the lowest percentages of saturated fat (along with pinenuts and almonds) and one of the best nut sources of heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Unfortunately this all does not make nutella healthy. The amount of hazelnuts is 18% but the sugar and fat content is just too high to make this a healthy part of your daily diet. The company promotes it as a healthy spread on bread for breakfast and lunch and fool people in thinking that it is healthy.

Bottom Line: Nutella has 190 calories for two tablespoons — very high when you are trying to watch your weight. Use sparingly.

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