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 Good & Gather Vanilla Creamy Almond Butter (just 2 grams of added sugar) at Target.

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 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

Find this article interesting and useful?
Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and the inside scoop on healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-conscious consumers.

Have a comment, question, or idea?
Send us an email at comments@nutritionaction.com. While we can’t respond to every email, we’ll be sure to read your message.