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September 11, 2014, last updated February 18, 2016
By D. Recalde, Contributing Columnist

Looking for a quick snack that can help you train better? Look no
further than Nutella. Made with skim milk, cocoa, palm oil and
hazelnuts, Nutella is a delicious snack that spreads on bread in a way
that is reminiscent of peanut butter. Developed originally in Italy, this
highly popular tasty treat has carved up a space on kitchen shelves
across the world --- Nutella fans in 160 countries devour 365,000 tons
of the stuff per year – and is notably making inroads into the US
market. According to the latest market data, Nutella is the number one
selling chocolate spread brand in the US and, in 2012, spearheaded a
commanding 13% growth in retail sales (USD 252 million).

Highly popular in Europe, this tasty chocolate treat wouldn't intuitively
make you think that it comes packed with quite a number of compelling
health benefits. In fact, Nutella is not --we repeat
not-- a "health food".
But, because of its hazelnut content, the gooey spread actually has
some surprising nutritional value.

But Nutella is not universally loved, even in Europe. In 2015, French
Minister of Ecology tweeted that everyone should  stop eating Nutella.
And though pressure from the Italian government caused a quick
change of tone, the message seems to have struck a chord. In the US,
Ferrero USA, the maker of Nutella, was forced by a court to pay $2.5
million in a class action brought against it by a California mother. The
Mom had discovered after feeding her child Nutella that it contains 11
grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar.

The battle for and against Nutella rages on. Here are 7 health benefits
that have been linked to eating the sweet treat:

Nutella is Among the Healthier Sweet Food Spreads

Though not as healthy as eating a piece of fruit, when compared with
other popular breakfast spreads, Nutella hits some solid nutritional
points. According to the information on its label, one tablespoon of
Nutella contains 100 calories, 0.5 grams fiber, 5.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams
protein, and 10.5 grams sugar. Though the sugar content is high, it's
low Glycemic Index of 33 means the energy packed in the food is
released slowly in the body.  A jar of Smucker's strawberry jam, in
turn, contains 50 calories and no fat, along with no protein, no fiber
and 12 grams of sugar. When calculated, the jam's Glycemic Index is in
the mid-60s to 70s, which means its energy is released very quickly into
the body, an effect not recommended by doctors. This makes Nutella's
nutritional index to be more similar to Skippy's creamy peanut butter,
which contains 80 calories, 8 grams fat, 1.5 grams sugar, 3.5 grams
protein and 1 gram fiber in a tablespoon-sized serving.

Nutella's Low Glycemic Index Helps You Train Better

Nutella can be seen as a candidate high-carb food that can be used for
pre-training nutrition, during-training nutrition (especially during long
training sessions), or after training as a recovery snack.

The key is that you should use it in combination with low-calorie foods,
because of its high sugar content. For example, a tablespoon of Nutella
combined with an 8 oz portion of plain yogurt and a tablespoon of
organic coconut oil (300 calories, 23 grams of carbs, 10 grams protein,
and plenty of Medium Chain Triglycerides from coconut oil), is a healthy
way to boost your body's recovery from training in that it restocks
your spent glycogen stores while providing your body with a fuel
source that isn't protein muscle.   (Read more about effective
control for men.)

Nutella's Lecithin is a Major Health Benefit

Nutella contains lecithin, a soy extract that is high in protein, calcium
and iron, properties that protect your bones, boost energy and help
you feel full for longer. A 2-tablespoon serving of Nutella accounts for
4 percent of your daily iron needs and 4 percent of your calcium needs.
Iron aids your body in producing red blood cells and guards the health
of your immune system. Meanwhile, the calcium in Nutella can help
regulate your blood pressure, while benefitting your bones and teeth.
According to a 2000 University of Maryland Medical Center study led by
Dr. E. Kampman, consuming good quantities of calcium reduces your
risk of stroke and colon cancer.

Nutella's Fiber Improves Heart Health

Two tablespoons of Nutella contain 1 gram of fiber. That accounts for  
3 percent of the 38 grams of fiber that men need to consume to meet
USDA recommended nutrient requirements ( and 4 percent of the 25
grams of fiber women require to be healthy each day).

Fiber lowers your cholesterol, which is critical for reducing your
chances of developing heart problems and issues, including a heart
attack. The hazelnuts in Nutella is the source of the product's fiber.

According to a 2011 European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study,
individuals who ate 30 grams of hazelnuts every day for 4 weeks were
found to experience a drop in overall cholesterol levels. (Read more
about the related nut, the
macadamia nut, and its health benefits.)

The Cocoa in Nutella Helps Your Blood Circulatory System

At the same time, the antioxidants in Nutella's cocoa ingredient help
balance blood pressure and prevent blood clotting. The product's
hazelnuts also give your body valuable doses of heart-healthy
polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, vitamin E to improve the
immune system and B vitamins to help with enhancing your mood and
energy processing. The chocolatey sweet spread also contains
worthwhile amounts of potassium, calcium and magnesium that help
keep your blood pressure at the recommended healthy range.

Nutella is All Natural

Though the confection contains saturated fat and sugar – yes, sugar is
one of its primary ingredient – the product is blessedly free of
hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup – ingredients that are
typically found in processed foods that cause a spate of health

Hundreds of studies have linked hydrogenated oils with dangerous
health effects: higher “bad” cholesterol levels, obesity and increased
heart disease. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), in turn, contains
contaminants including toxic mercury that are not monitored by the
FDA. The presence of mercury in HFCS is a by-product of chlor-alkali
products used in its manufacturing.

Nutella is Gluten-free

Monosodium glutamate, otherwise known as gluten, is not found in
Nutella. A protein composite found in several types of grains, including
wheat, rye, spelt and barley, gluten can trigger negative immune
system reactions in gluten-sensitive people.

Celiacs suffer from the most severe form of gluten sensitivity, wherein
the gluten causes the immune system of these individuals to attack both
the gluten and the intestinal wall itself. A Gastroenterology Journal
study released in 2009 along with a 2010 National Institutes of Health
study both concluded that the rate of celiac disease is quickly increasing
in the population; so, as a result, it's good to know that Nutella is a safe
food to be consumed by the gluten-sensitive.  


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