What's Actually in a Jar of Nutella?
There's chocolate and hazelnuts, but what else?
Some people love Nutella so much that they're willing put the sweet hazelnut-chocolate on anything, from Nutella-stuffed French toast to Nutella burgers and Nutella fries. It's delicious on toast or just on its own, straight from the jar. There are even entire restaurants devoted to the sweet Italian spread. But what makes a jar of Nutella taste so good? In other words, what's actually in a jar of Nutella that keeps you going back for more and more?
As it turns out, not much. In fact, there are only seven ingredients in Nutella, according to the manufacturer's website: sugar; palm oil; hazelnuts; cocoa; milk; synthetic vanillin, which gives the same aroma as a vanilla pod would but is more readily available for use in mass quantities; and lecithin, an emulsifier made from soybeans or sunflower seeds that helps guarantee the spread's smooth texture.
But even though the list of ingredients seems straightforward enough, it's still been the subject of controversy in the last couple of years. Take the palm oil in Nutella, for instance. In May 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published a study that found palm oil "generated more of a potentially carcinogenic contaminant than other vegetable oils when refined at temperatures above 200°C," according to a report from Reuters.
The food safety agency didn't actually ban palm oil and admitted that more research was needed to make a concrete recommendation, but the debate about the safety of palm oil hit Nutella hard. So much so that the makers of Nutella Ferrero clapped back in January 2017, releasing a series of TV and newspaper advertisements to explain, "The palm oil used by Ferrero is safe because it comes from freshly squeezed fruits and is processed at controlled temperatures." And the palm oil is important, since it gives Nutella its texture and ensures its "whole shelf life, due to its higher stability to oxidation compared to other vegetable oils," according to the Ferrero website.
Nutella has also been knocked for the amount of sugar per jar. There are 21 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons of the stuff, which means there are 105 grams of sugar in a standard 7.7-ounce jar. And when you actually see the ingredients, it's kind of shocking to see how much sugar is in a jar:
That photo comes from the Consumer Center Hamburg in Germany, and it's definitely stark. But it's not like anyone ever said Nutella was healthy. So enjoy your Nutella; just be aware of what's in that jar before you sit down and eat the whole thing. And if the health stuff is really freaking you out, you could always try making your own chocolate-hazelnut spread, but no guarantees that it'll be as addictive.