I’m generally an advocate of making the majority of your food from scratch, alongside an everything-in-moderation approach with other foods to avoid deprivation and to retain your sanity. Last pregnancy I had barely any cravings at all, but this one Nutella has featured big time. And I’m not talking about just spreading a little on your toast kinda craving. It’s been the ugly eat-it-straight-out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon-on-its-own-at-any-time-of-day kinda craving. Thank goodness it hasn’t crept beyond that and the rest of my diet is mostly full of fruits, veges and whole foods!
But then along came a sample of Nuttvia on my doorstep (given the above circumstances incredibly appropriate timing); new to the New Zealand market, a similar spread with the claim of a helluva lot less sugar – although of course they’re not talking specifically about Nutella when they say that…
I meant to do this product comparison write-up ages ago, so sorry for those of you who have been hanging out for it! Here are my thoughts on these two spreads side by side.
It’s been around for ages. We’ve all heard of it and likely eaten it. But in the health community Nutella doesn’t have the best rep as far as breakfast spreads go. Containing no added colours or preservatives, it is undoubtedly delicious and contains the goodness of hazelnuts. But that’s all drowned out a little because of the whopping 8.4 grams of sugar – so around two teaspoons – per 15g tablespoon serve.
Enter Nuttvia. A hazelnut spread containing sweeteners that have given them the ability to reduce the sugar content by 97% compared to other sugar-based products on the market and proudly displaying a 5-star health rating on the lid.
Nuttvia is also associated with the Orangutan Alliance Org. and the label proclaims they are palm oil free which is kind of a big deal if you’re into companies that are more socially responsible. The production of palm oil for international use (mostly processed, pre-packaged foods) is endangering Orangutans and Sumatran Tigers towards extinction as their rainforest habitat is being destroyed for agricultural purposes. Big tick mark there on ethical sustainabiliy.
Though as you’ll see in the ingredients info, Nutella uses 100% RSPO-certified sustainable and segregated palm oil which means it’s kept separate from regular rainforest-destroying palm oil in the chain of supply to ensure it’s quality and origins. Similar sorts of kudos, but no affiliation with a specific organisation.
The nutrition facts
So what’s been ‘swapped’? Here’s the nutrition information and ingredients lists for the two:
Sugar, Vegetable oil (sustainable and segregated certified palm oil), hazelnuts (13%), skim milk powder (8.7%), fat-reduced cocoa powder (7.4%), emulsifier (lecithins)(soy), flavouring (vanillin).
Sweeteners (Maltitol, erythritol, steviol, glycosides), vegetable oil (sunflower, coconut), maltodextrin, hazelnuts (10%), fat-reduced cocoa powder (7.4%), cocoa butter, emulsifier (lecithins [sunflower]), sweet whey powder (from milk).
As you’ll see when it comes to a serve as small as a tablespoon there’s not a whole lot of difference between the two in most areas nutritionally, even though health-wise often small changes over time can have a great effect.
The big one here is the sugar content. By trading sugar for sweeteners you’re eating almost two teaspoons of sugar less per serve if you opt for Nuttvia instead of Nutella.
Bear in mind as well that a tablespoon of spread is probably only going to see you one slice of bread… so if you like to have two pieces of toast in the morning these numbers will be doubled to four teaspoons of sugar across two slices of toast.
In a blind taste test comparison Nutella seems to be more appealing. But having said that, this was only when myself and those I asked to help sample the products were eating them straight away after each other (and to be fair there’s a LOT of sugar in Nutella which is made to appeal to the tastebuds of the masses).
What I actually preferred about the flavour of Nutella was probably not so much the sweetness – that I could do without – it was more the hint of vanilla. Or in this instance vanillin which is an artificially produced version of vanilla flavouring (see what they did there? No added colours or preservatives, but there is synthetic flavour). Standalone as a spread on my toast in the morning I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference and Nuttvia was just as appealing so taste isn’t such an important factor for me.
Essentially your options are:
Nutella: Lots of sugar, tastes good – very sweet, got processed stuff in it, got palm oil but it’s sustainable.
Nuttvia: Lots of sweeteners, tastes good – not so sweet, fewer calories, got processed stuff in it, no sugar, no palm oil.
I’m likely to mix and match between these two in the future when I buy them – which is typically rarely. Yes Nutella has a lot of sugar content, however, I’m kind of partially in the camp of sweeteners having their own issues.
Sweeteners – as opposed to straight table sugar – have lower carb/energy value which is better for the waistline, but they may still reinforce cravings for sweet foods and are often derived from hydrogenated corn starch syrup or made through similarly highly processed methods (although some can be naturally sourced such as Natvia/Stevia which is one of the sweeteners in Nuttvia). Maltodextrin found in Nuttvia is also an ingredient that’s typically highly processed.
At the end of the day sugar is just… sugar. We know what it is. When you eat it in moderation it’s not that bad. When you eat it for snacks straight out of the jar it’s probably not ideal.
Both Nutella and Nuttvia have processed ingredients in them, so your health goals and philosophy, and how often you use spreads will likely be the big decider for which of these two products you would prefer to buy. At least my pregnancy cravings for this general taste have subsided for now and I’m back to just using these spreads on the odd occasion!
Which one would you prefer to use?
Product sample provided for review by Nuttvia
Images / NZ Real Health