What's in a jar of Nutella? A viral image shows the hazelnut spread is mostly sugar.
Nutella, the chocolate and hazelnut spread adored by many, lathered on toast and eaten by the spoonful, contains a literal mountain of sugar.
Just how much? A viral image posted to Reddit on Sunday can give you a taste for just how much of the sweet stuff is in each jar. (The image previously appeared with ingredients listed in German when it was used in an article that published Saturday on Die Welt, a German news site. The original image was created by Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg — the consumer center of Hamburg, Germany.)
How much sugar is in a jar of Nutella?
Based on the Nutella nutrition label that states each two-tablespoon serving has 21 grams of sugar, there is approximately 210 grams of sugar in a 13-ounce jar of Nutella. That's more than quadruple the sugar in a 16-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola.
"By weight, Nutella is 55% sugar," — Caroline Passarrello, registered dietitian
Twenty-one grams of sugar "is equivalent to five teaspoons," Alissa Rumsey, registered dietician, said in an email. "Considering that the American Heart Association recommends women have no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, and men no more than nine teaspoons, five teaspoons is a significant amount," she noted.
"By weight, Nutella is 55% sugar," Caroline Passarrello, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said in an email. Her reasoning: One serving weighs 36 grams and 20 of those grams come from sugar.
While consumers probably know a snack so sweet contains a fair amount of sugar, the visual breakdown can still be quite shocking.
Sugar is the number one ingredient on the nutrition label. According to FDA guidelines on labeling, this means it has more sugar than any other ingredient.
So indeed, you are jacking your kids full of sugar when serving them toast with a hefty schmear of Nutella for breakfast each morning. Back in 2012, Nutella had to settle a $3 million class action lawsuit because an American mom claimed the company's advertisements featuring families eating Nutella for breakfast had misled her to think that it was in fact good for her kids, CBS reported.
"[Nutella] should be treated as a dessert, something to be enjoyed on occasion as a treat," Rumsey said, explaining that foods high in sugar cause blood sugar levels to spike and then crash. "I don't recommend starting the day off with something that will cause your energy levels (and appetite) to fluctuate through the day."
However, Passerrello said the spread could be part of a balanced breakfast if used in moderation. If spreading Nutella on whole-grain toast or stirring it into oatmeal is healthier than what you normally eat in the mornings, it could be a better choice, she noted.
Yet even the USDA is wising up to the fact that Nutella shouldn't be touted as a wholly virtuous breakfast option. In November 2016, Nutella requested that the government classify the spread in the same category as honey and jams, items that are allowed by law to list serving size as one tablespoon, Quartz reported. (If classified as a dessert, Nutella has to list serving size as two tablespoons, which will make each serving size contain more sugar, rendering the product less appealing to sugar-conscious consumers.)
Nutella has been experiencing some not-so-sweet times as of late. A report from the European Food Safety Authority raised concerns that palm oil, a main ingredient in Nutella, potentially caused cancer. However, the EFSA did not advise people to quit consuming palm oil completely, so it seems Nutella lovers are in the clear for the time being.
But when it comes to sugar, research clearly shows that the sweet stuff is bad for our health. Many nutrition experts say too much sugar is a direct cause of obesity and heart disease, the New York Times reported. Sadly, too much of a good thing can really be a very bad thing.
Nutella did not immediately respond to Mic's request for comment.