Have you been fooled by sugary nut butter impostors?

Some sweet spreads look like nut butter, yet they have more sugar than nuts…or no nuts, period.

A “hazelnut spread with cocoa”? Nutella has more sugar and palm oil than hazelnuts or cocoa.

Don’t expect many nuts in Nutella.

Nutella hazelnut spread is a happy start to your day!” proclaims the jar. “Enjoy it with whole grain toast, pancakes, strawberries, bananas, and many other foods.”

Not so fast. Nutella calls itself a “hazelnut spread with cocoa.” But a “sugar spread with palm oil” would be more honest. Nutella—which, we estimate, has just 4 or 5 nuts in each serving—squeezes in more calories, saturated fat, and sugar than Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting. Cupcakes for breakfast, anyone?

Nutella lookalike Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread isn’t much better. There’s more sugar (about a third of a day’s max) and oil than almonds or cocoa.

“Cookie butter” has no nuts at all.

It may be sold next to nut butters on supermarket shelves, but Lotus Biscoff Cookie Butter is simply crushed refined-flour cookies plus sugar and oil. Despite Biscoff’s peanut-butter hue, it has no nuts—and little to none of their protein, fiber, magnesium, or other nutrients.

And the sneaky one-tablespoon serving listed on Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter makes it look like it has half the calories of real nut butter (90 vs. 190). In fact, tablespoon for tablespoon, calories are no lower.

Want a sweet nut butter? These are some better bets.

Chocolate: Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut & Almond Butter (8 grams of added sugar) delivers Nutella-like taste with more nuts than sugar and oil. Yummy Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolatey Dreams (6 grams of added sugar) is less than half the price of Justin’s.

Vanilla: Look for Simply Balanced Creamy Vanilla Almond Butter (just 2 grams of added sugar) at Target.

Sweet and creamy, with a hint of vanilla. Simply Balanced Vanilla Almond Butter is lower in sugar than impostors like Nutella.
Photo: Target.

Nutrition Action doesn’t accept any paid advertising or corporate or government donations. Any products recommended by Nutrition Action have been vetted by our staff of nutritionists and are not advertisements by the manufacturers. The information in this post first appeared in the June issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.


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