I used to love Nutella when I was kid–that is before studying nutrition and discovering its harmful ingredients. The scariest thing that people don’t know about Nutella is that it contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), also known as E621. It’s cleverly hidden inside an artificial flavor called vanillin which is labeled on every Nutella jar. It also contains the toxic GMO emulsifier soy lecithin and palm oil whose extraction is ravaging forests and wildlife throughout the world.
As kids we went crazy over nutella in the 70s and 80s, but parents back then weren’t taking as many precautions as they are today, especially when it comes to reading ingredient labels.
According to the official US Nutella Website, the ingredients are as follows:
“sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), soy lecithin as emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor”
Nutella claims their product contains “No Artificial Colors and No Artificial Preservatives”.
The definition of artificial is “made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally.” Every single one of their ingredients goes through very heavy processing which would imply that the natural state of these ingredients which contribute to color and preservation is completely absent from their formula. Their soy lecithin alone is about as artificial as an emulsifier/preservative gets.
Nutella contains 67% saturated fat and processed sugar by weight. A two-tablespoon (37 gram) serving of Nutella contains 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated and 21 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, a typical chocolate and nut candy bar has 250 to 300 calories and 12 to 16 grams of fat.
VANILLIN: AN ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR (MSG)
When most people see vanillin, they think…oh it has vanilla. However, this is likely one of the most harmful ingredients in Nutella. Scent and flavor of vanillin are nothing but chemicals. When we talk about actual real-life non-imitation vanilla flavor, what we’re really talking about is a bunch of molecules that are extracted from a vanilla bean.
The grandest chemical of all of these is vanillin. Sure, vanilla has plenty of other odor molecules, but vanillin is about 95% of the scent. And, thanks to technology, you can make it cheaply from petroleum and in a lab. The largest vanillin manufacturers in the world are in China and more than 90% of food products manufactured contain vanillin from China including Nutella.
The worst part of vanillin is that it contains unlabeled MSG. It is not a nutrient, vitamin, or mineral and has no health benefits. The part of MSG that negatively affects the human body is the “glutamate”, not the sodium. The breakdown of MSG typically consists of 78% glutamate, 12% sodium, and about 10% water. Any glutamate added to a processed food is not and can not be considered naturally occurring. Natural glutamate in plants and animals is known as L-glutamic acid. MSG Lurks As A Slow Poison In Common Food Items Without Your Knowledge and vanillin is one of them.
MSG has been proven to act as an excitotoxin which stimulates the reward system of the brain, so we think it tastes better (than it actually does) and consequently consume more.
There are a growing number of Clinicians and Scientists who are convinced that excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders, including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases; a group of diseases which includes: ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.
Palm oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree.
The use of palm oil in processed foods, its most widespread application in the United States, jumped sharply after government authorities took aggressive steps to reduce the trans fat content in processed foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that palm oil is second only to soybean oil in terms of worldwide popularity as a food oil.
In support of its warnings about the dangers of palm oil, the center cites two meta-analyses that show that palm oil raises blood cholesterol levels. A 1997 British analysis evaluated 147 human trials and concluded that palmitic acid, an active ingredient in palm oil, raised total blood cholesterol levels. A Dutch analysis, released in 2003, weighed data from 35 clinical studies and found that palmitic acid significantly increased the ratio of total cholesterol to so-called “good cholesterol,” a widely recognized risk factor for heart disease.
In a study published in a 1999 issue of “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition,” three Nigerian biochemistry researchers extol some of the nutrients found in fresh palm oil, but point out that the oil in an oxidized state can threaten physiological and biochemical functions of the body. They acknowledge that manufacturers of processed foods oxidize palm oil in their products for a variety of culinary purposes, meaning that much of the palm oil consumers eat is in an oxidized state. The dangers of oxidized palm oil include organotoxicity of the heart, kidney, liver and lungs, as well as reproductive toxicity, the researchers claim. Additionally, they note, oxidized palm oil can cause an increase in free fatty acids, phospholipids and cerebrosides.
Indonesia has achieved its goal of becoming one of the two largest palm-oil producers and exporters in the world. But at what cost?
At least half of the world’s wild orangutans have disappeared in the last 20 years; biologically viable populations of orangutans have been radically reduced in size and number; and 80 percent of the orangutan habitat has either been depopulated or totally destroyed. The trend shows no sign of abating: government maps of future planned land use show more of the same, on an increasing scale.
In Malaysia, peat swamp forests are being obliterated, and the disappearing forests endangering the habitat of the “pygmy elephant — the smallest elephant on Earth — the clouded leopard, the long-nosed tapir and many rare birds.”
As word spreads about the devastation that palm oil cultivation can cause, people are beginning to take notice and companies are beginning to make changes. Sustainable palm oil is in its infancy, and according to Worldwatch Institute, palm oil sustainability criteria remain controversial.
Check out saynotopalmoil.com to get a full perspective on what’s happening throughout the world because of palm oil.
Palm Oil is simply another ingredient that needs to be banned from our food supply. We don’t need it if it’s not sustainable in the health of our ecosystems or wildlife.
Soybean lecithin comes from sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a “degumming” process. It is a waste product containing solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid. Before being bleached to a more appealing light yellow, the color of lecithin ranges from a dirty tan to reddish brown. The hexane extraction process commonly used in soybean oil manufacture today yields less lecithin than the older ethanol-benzol process, but produces a more marketable lecithin with better color, reduced odor and less bitter flavor.
Today soy lecithin is ubiquitous in the processed food supply. It is most commonly used as an emulsifier to keep water and fats from separating in foods such as margarine, peanut butter, chocolate candies, ice cream, coffee creamers and infant formulas. It also helps prevent product spoilage making it a preservative and extending shelf life in the marketplace.
The majority of soy sources in the world are now genetically modified (GM). Researchers have clearly identified GM foods as a threat to the environment, pollution of soils and a long-term threat to human health with links to of the world with unnatural genetic material that may have unknown long-term consequences with links to decreased fertility, immunological alterations in the gut and the exacerbation and creation of allergies.
Genetically engineered soy contains high concentrations of plant toxicants. The presence of high levels of toxicants in the GM soy represent thousands of plant biochemicals many of which have been shown to have toxic effects.
REDUCED MINERALS WHEY
Whey protein production starts with dairy cows and was actually considered a waste byproduct of cheese production. It was typically discarded.
Dairy companies now recognize the value of whey and have set up factories to concentrate and purify it from sources that are substandard from cows fed GMO foods, antibiotics and hormones to boost their production. Reduced-minerals ends up being a dark cream-colored product which companies acquire raw from the same handful of manufacturers.
Whey powder is an additive commonly used in spreads to prevent the coagulation of the product because it stabilizes the fat emulsions.
It is manufactured by drying whey that has been heat treated to remove a portion of the minerals. It is used as animal feed and also by the pharmaceutical industry.
Levels of demineralization of this type of whey can exceed 90% making this ingredient completely useless in terms of nutrition.
So dump this toxic brew of a spread and opt for a healthier alternatives below.
HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES TO NUTELLA
Raw Nutella Recipe #1
makes about 1 cup
1 cup hazelnuts, soaked for 8-10 hours
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
2-4 tbsp coconut milk
Drain and rinse hazelnuts and place in food processor or high-powered blender. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Depending on the strength of your blender, this may take 10-15 minutes to get the desired consistency.
Once the hazelnuts turn into a buttery consistency, add the sweetener, vanilla, salt, and cacao powder and blend until smooth. Slowly add the milk until desired consistency.
Raw Nutella Recipe #2
Makes a 330ml Jar
15 dates (around 90 g. or 3 oz.)
1/2 cup almond butter
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup carob powder
1Tbsp coconut oil
1. Rehydrate the dates in hot water for about 10 minutes (or 2 hours in cold water)
2. Combine all your ingredients in a blender. Scrape the sides as needed to make sure the spread is smooth. Add only water or oil…never milk for this recipe.
Natasha Longo has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.