Healthy? Are you nuts?!

While watching my favourite soap opera last night, I caught the end of an advertisement for a ‘healthy’ and ‘nutritious’ snack… a healthy and nutritious snack?

Fantastic! What is this product? At the next break, I watched the ads a little more closely to find out just what this miracle food was. I knew it was too good to be true! I was disappointed to find that the product I hoped would end all our snacking nightmares was, in fact, Nutella.

Despite the ad, Nutella is no dream food! Let me just describe this product for those of you who aren’t familiar with Nutella - it is a thick chocolate and hazelnut paste commonly spread on bread, toast or crackers.

Nutella is made from sugar, vegetable oils, hazelnuts, cocoa, a range of milk products and powders, along with a helping of emulsifiers put in for good measure. And this product is advertised as a ‘healthy’ and ‘nutritious’ snack? I don’t think so!

Despite the message put across in the advertisement, the ingredients list surely suggests that this might not be the dream snack.

Nutella provides a frightening 550kcal per 100g with a scary 55% of energy coming from fat (including 16% energy from saturated fat). This means a single 20g serving of Nutella would supply a massive 110 calories and almost 7g of fat - that’s more energy and fat than a medium spread of butter!

The bread or crackers the Nutella is spread on could add an additional 60 or 70 calories, bringing your ‘healthy’ and ‘nutritious’ snack up to almost 200 calories. And who ever has only one slice of bread or one cracker?

Two slices of bread with this chocolate nutty spread could add anything up to 350 calories and 15g of fat to your daily intake – that’s the same number of calories (and twice the fat!) provided by a balanced and nourishing low-fat meal, which would undoubtedly supply many more vitamins and minerals as well as being much more satisfying and filling.

So next time you crave a snack, go for an alternative which really is healthy and nutritious – a piece of fruit, carrot or celery sticks, low fat yoghurt or a slice of wholemeal bread with reduced sugar jam. Don’t go nuts over this nutty snack!

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