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Its creamy, chocolaty goodness goes beautifully on everything from toast to ice cream, but eaters with an eye toward clean ingredient lists should approach with caution.

January 13, 2017

The Nutella that we know today was created in 1964 and originally sold in European countries. Its popularity has spread like wildfire in the U.S. in the last decade, and today, Nutella is commonly served on toast, fruit, crêpes, ice cream, and waffles, as well as in baked goods like pastries, cakes, and cookies. This cocoa-hazelnut spread is indeed delicious, but should we be eating it in the, some would argue excessive, way that we are?

Nutella tends to be treated like nut butter, as it has hazelnut in the description and is similar to nut butters in terms of serving size, fat, and carbohydrate content. The difference, though, is the sugar content. Nutella has 21 grams of sugar in 2 tablespoons—just enough to spread a thin layer over two slices of toast. Most people know that Nutella contains sugar, but 21 grams is the same amount of sugar found in an entire Dunkin Donuts Frosted Chocolate Crème donut. It’s okay to use Nutella sparingly, but that is a lot of sugar if you are aiming to eat a balanced breakfast.

We recognize the dilemma many eaters with an eye toward health have: we crave the creamy, nutty flavor of Nutella, yet we realize the high sugar content puts it out of territory for an everyday indulgence. With that in mind, we went out to see what other varieties were available. Other chocolate-hazelnut spreads on the market include Barefoot and Chocolate, Nocciolata, and Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. Here, the breakdown on the nutrition content for one serving (2 tablespoons) of each spread.

Nutella

  • Calories: 220
  • Fat: 12 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 4
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 23 grams

Barefoot and Chocolate (Fair Trade)

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 13 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Sugar: 14 grams

Nocciolata (USDA Organic)

  • Calories: 190
  • Fat: 11 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 2 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 18 grams

Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 2 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Sugar: 8 grams

How They Compare

Most chocolate-hazelnut spreads are similar in calories, fat, saturated fat, and protein. Sugar, however, is where these brands all divide. The first food on the ingredient list for Nutella, Barefoot and Chocolate, and Nocciolata is sugar or organic cane sugar. Barefoot and Chocolate has 14 grams, and Nocciolata has 18 grams. Both brands have less than Nutella.

Justin’s is the only variety that lists dry roasted hazelnuts as the first ingredient. That's followed by dry roasted almonds. Sugar is third. Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter clocks in at 8 grams of sugar per serving, about 1/3 of the sugar in Nutella.

Our Conclusion: Enjoy the spread in your favorite ways. Just be aware of the sugar numbers it adds to your daily totals. Get your morning cocoa-hazelnut spread fix with less sugar by switching to Justin's, and focus on incorporating it into a balanced breakfast. Eat one serving on 100% whole-wheat toast, or drizzle it over homemade oatmeal with strawberries. Make an easy treat by putting a dot between slices of banana and freezing them.