Ahh, nutella. That delicious sugary-hazelnut heaven. You can out it on waffles, bread, or crackers… or even just spoon it directly into your mouth. Many of us are addicted to this treat and once you become pregnant it is natural to wonder if it is safe to eat nutella while pregnant. Well, the good news is that it is safe while you are pregnant (hooray!) but that DOES NOT mean that there are no risks involved. Curious? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of eating nutella while you are pregnant.
So what is in Nutella anyways?
Well, while it is not overtly harmful (unless you have a nut allergy), the ingredients are around what you would expect for sugary snacks. Nutella contains the following ingredients:
- Palm oil
- Lecithin (soya)
All pretty innocuous, as it were. Before we go into the pluses and minuses of the product, let’s discuss the interesting story of how this beloved snack came about.
A brief history of Nutella
Following World War II there was a shortage of available cocoa. Nutella is actually a response to this shortage, only then it wasn’t called Nutella but ‘ Giandujot’ (after a famous carnival character of the time). It wasn’t a spread, either. It’s creator, an Italian pastry-maker by the name of Pietro Ferrero made Giandujot from a paste of hazelnuts and sugar and originally fashioned it into a loaf. You could slice it and serve it on bread. By 1951 Giandujot had evolved into a spreadable paste called ”Supercrema’, a little closer to our modern Nutella.It wouldn’t be until 1964 that Fererro’s son, Michele, would happen upon the perfect coca and hazelnut hybrid that we know and love today.
Wow, very cool! So what are its nutritional benefits?
Eh, about that. Well, we suppose the Hazelnuts can give a protein boost,
but beyond that the product is practically half sugar. While we know that isn’t what you wanted to hear, in all fairness, it’s a general rule that things which taste as good as Nutella are almost NEVER that good for you. That said, it is rather like eating pastries, chocolate donuts, or other sweets that we crave. It is not considered harmful in general BUT there are some risks that are associated with it. It is okay to eat Nutella while you are pregnant but there are some things that you should know.
This one is kind of a hot button issue. In May of 2016 the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) issued a warning against palm oil, advising that it contained components that could cause cancer. Now, MANY products employ palm oil in their ingredients. The way that the ‘Nutella Palm-Oil scare’ came to light was when Fererro stated publically that they would not be removing palm oil from Nutella. He stated that it was essential to the smoothness of the beloved product as well as its rather enormous shelf-life and advised that no one is in danger from consuming their product .
He also advised that Nutella processes their palm oil quite responsibly.
” Sugar concentration can be dangerous and pose a risk of gestational diabetes”
The reason that this is important is because the EFSA warning was based on the identification of two carcinogens ( known as 3-MCPD and GE) being produced in the process of making palm oil. These compounds were found to increase the likelihood of kidney problems and even tumors in rats and the EFSA advised that high levels of these compounds would likely be a danger for children under 10. They also advised that further studies were definitely warranted. Considering that Nutella is consumed in quite a few parts of the world, it is likely that a significant launch of surprise tumors and kidney problems would be noticed, so in all likelihood you are probably just fine eating Nutella in pregnancy.
The more likely risks of Nutella
Eating Nutella during pregnancy does have some pitfalls, however. Enjoyed in moderation Nutella should be perfectly pregnancy-safe. That said, don’t go overboard. Remember when we said the product is pretty much half-sugar? This sort of sugar concentration can be dangerous and pose a risk of gestational diabetes. If you haven’t heard of that kind of diabetes, basically it is a rare form that affects pregnant mothers and goes away once the child is born. It can lead to miscarriage, early birth, or stillbirth. This can occur from overconsumption of any sugar product, however, so it’s not really a Nutella-specific issue.
Are there any other risks?
Like other sugary sweets, weight gain is going to be a concern. Remember, the product is pretty much a blend of nuts and sugar. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any, of course. Across the world many a pregnant woman has enjoyed sating their snack cravings with Nutella spread on waffles, toast, fruit… you name it. Just treat it like any other sweetstuffs. Nutella is as safe to eat while pregnant as our other guilty, junk-food pleasures. Unless you have a peanut allergy then you can snack with confidence.
You wanted to know, ‘Can I eat Nutella while I’m pregnant?’, and we hope that we have answered your question as thoroughly as possible. Having discussed the ingredients, news-scares, and even a little bit of history we feel that this is not a product that you should worry about. If the science and history didn’t help, scroll back to the ingredients list. Nutella is made from a very small list of basic ingredients that you will find in many a product. If you want to be extra thorough and have a bit of free-time, Google each one separately. We think that you will find the results not only comforting but also considering that it has such a small list of ingredients, you may find yourself admiring the creativity that went into arranged such a simple list of components into something so yummy and appreciated. Enjoy your Nutella!