Chocolate spread is a popular staple in many households and is a great way to enjoy a delicious taste while getting the benefits that come with cacao. However, not all chocolate spreads are created equally! In fact, they vary hugely from a nutrition point of view. In this article, I’m going to show you exactly what to look for…
Before we get into that though, I want to touch on some of the great benefits that we can gain from incorporating cacao and good quality chocolate into our diet. Cacao is known for its natural mood boosting properties – yes there’s a reason that chocolate makes you happy, aside from how good it tastes! Cacao is also a brilliant source of polyphenols and flavanols, giving it a high antioxidant content and helping to fight free radical damage. Along with this, cacao is a source of many important trace minerals, such as zinc, iron and magnesium. These benefits come from cacao powder and are diminished in the more processed alternative, known as cocoa. For this reason, I always recommend choosing products containing cacao powder.
When choosing a healthy chocolate spread, things you want to look out for is that it’s made up of real foods, doesn’t contain inflammatory oils, uses cacao (not cocoa) powder to flavour it and doesn’t have a whole heap of added sugars. The more nutrient dense foods that are used (like nuts and seeds) the better it’s generally going to be.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the ingredients list of some of the chocolate spreads available in the Australian supermarkets:
– Mayver’s Hazelnut Cashew & Cacao Butter
Ingredients: roasted hazelnuts (57%), roasted cashews (30%), date powder, cacao powder (5%), sea salt.
– Mayver’s Cacao Super Spread
Ingredients: peanuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, dates, cacao powder (2.7%), chia seeds, sesame seeds, natural vanilla flavour.
– Pana Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
Ingredients: organic coconut sugar, organic roasted hazelnuts (36%), organic sunflower oil, cacao powder (7%), sunflower lecithin.
– Nutella Hazelnut Spread
Ingredients: sugar, vegetable oil (palm), hazelnuts (13%), fat-reduced cocoa powder (7.4%), skim milk powder (6.6%), whey powder, emulsifier (lecithins) (soy), flavouring (vanillin).
– Nuttvia Hazelnut Spread
Ingredients: sweetener (maltitol, maltodextrin, erythritol, steviol glycosides), vegetable oil (sunflower, coconut), hazelnuts 10%, fat-reduced cocoa powder 7.4%, cocoa butter, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin), natural flavours.
Looking at these, it’s pretty clear to see which are using real food ingredients, and which are far from nutritious.
Did you know that Nutella, one of the most popular chocolate spreads, is actually made up of 56% sugar! Yes, you read that right. It may be sold as a chocolate hazelnut spread but looking at the ingredients above, we can see that it only contains 13% hazelnuts, has inflammatory oils and uses fat-reduced cocoa powder, a much less nutritious option than cacao powder.
On the other hand, we have the new Mayver’s Hazelnut, Cashew & Cacao Butter, which uses 5 simple, real food ingredients that give us maximum nutrition benefits and a delicious taste.
In the following table, I’ve compared both the hazelnut and sugar percentages from these 5 chocolate spreads:
|Mayver’s Hazelnut, Cashew & Cacao Butter||57%||10.6%|
|Mayver’s Cacao Super Spread||0%||9.6%|
|Pana Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Spread||36%||46.3%|
|Nuttvia Hazelnut Spread||10%||1.7%|
|Nutella Hazelnut Spread||13%||56%|
The above list has been ranked from best to worst option, with health and nutrition in mind.
It’s clear that the Mayver’s spreads are the winners. They use real food ingredients, are low in sugar and give us all of the benefits of the nutritious nuts they’re made up of. The fact that they’re healthy also doesn’t mean that they don’t taste delicious, you may even find you prefer them (I know I do)!
So, next time you’re buying a chocolate spread from the supermarket, try to look for:
- Real food ingredients
- The absence of added oils
- Cacao instead of cocoa
- No added sugars
Remember that being healthy doesn’t mean we have to miss out on delicious products, it’s about making educated decisions in alignment with our goals. And yes, the right chocolate spreads can be a delicious addition to a balanced diet.