Peanut Butter vs. Nutella, which is Healthier?

peanut butter nutella which is healthier

Peanut Butter vs. Nutella, which is Healthier?

It’s time for the fun game of nutritional comparison! Comparing Peanut Butter (PB) to the popular Italian hazelnut spread Nutella. This topic comes suggested to me by a busy couple in Waterloo seeking dietary guidance for their family. To answer this question, let’s take a look at the ingredient lists for both products and then compare their nutrition info. I will provide (as always) my ‘bottom line’ nutrition recommendations.

Which is healthier: Peanut Butter or Nutella? Click To Tweet

What’s In Nutella?

Ingredients (as listed on the label): SUGAR, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillin: an ARTIFICIAL flavour.

Please note, the ingredient lists are ordered with the first ingredient in the highest amount. Therefore, you can deduce that Nutella is virtually a sugar spread. What about the palm oil listed next? Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that is one of the highest in saturated fats, which are associated with raising your lousy ‘LDL’ cholesterol and associated with increasing risk for heart disease.

What's the MAIN ingredient in Nutella?? Click To Tweet

What’s in Peanut Butter?

Ingredients (as listed on the label): Roasted peanuts, corn maltodextrin, sugar, soybean oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt.

Note that the first ingredient is not sugar so that is a start! Peanuts are a good source of protein and healthy, unsaturated fats. The maltodextrin is a food additive that helps improve shelf life, the mouth-feel of the product. Often you will see maltodextrin on ingredient lists for candy and sugary beverages. The next ingredient is sugar, followed by soybean oil, which is high in healthy plant-based polyunsaturated fats, which can help to lower bad cholesterol. The subsequent ingredient is ‘hydrogenated’ vegetable oil; this is not a heart healthy ingredient since the ‘hydrogenation process’ implies that the fats have been stabilized to increase shelf-life. Hydrogrenated oils are associated with heart disease and increasing the bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol.


Peanut Butter

Bottom Line:

Without hesitation, Peanut Butter is the ‘healthier’ alternative to Nutella. Peanut Butter is lower in sugar, higher in protein and often lower in your unhealthy fats. The Centre of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) describes Nutella as “more sugar and modified palm oil than hazlenut“. CSPI summarizes Nutella’s nutritional profile as a “sugar spread with palm oil”. Interestingly, in 2012 the company producing Nutella was sued for $3 Million for false advertising leading people to believe that Nutella has nutritional and health benefits.

Two tablespoons of PB is considered a ‘ meat alternative’ in Canada’s Food Guide with about 7g of protein. Peanut butter also contains magnesium from the plant based healthy fats, click here to read my previous blog on health benefits of magnesium.

In summary, your best bet would be to choose Peanut Butter over Nutella. Be weary of the false advertising leading the consumer to believe that Nutella is some sort of ‘health food’. For the most healthful PB option, opt for a low sodium, natural Peanut Butter version which does not contain added sugar and hydrogenated oils. However, the consistency of the PB will change without these additives and there will be a separation of the oils.

Happy Healthy Eating!