On today's episode of "Why Does Everything Have To Hurt So Much?" we're going to talk all about Nutella and why we can't have nice things.
Although the marketing team behind Nutella has been peddling the chocolatey, hazelnut-packed spread as being part of a well-balanced breakfast, we all have to remember that these folks are, in fact, part of a marketing team.
And that means they've been lying through their chocolate-covered teeth. As it turns out, there are a few ingredients in Nutella that contributed to a lawsuit against its maker, Ferrero. They're far from healthy.
Let's talk about that lawsuit.
In 2012, Nutella's parent company paid a total of $3 million to all participants in the claim after being found guilty of something called "healthwashing."
This comes into play when marketing teams spin branding on the basis of health and make claims that sound like they're rooted in scientific fact. In reality, this approach is typically taken when an unhealthy food could potentially be deemed "less unhealthy" than a competitor's product.
Over the years, there have even been cases in which healthcare professionals and representatives have teamed up with corporations like Coca-Cola to produce "studies" that tilt findings in the given company's favor.
Although the class-action case against Ferrero did not arrive on the coattails of such a study, it operated on a similar basis. Basically, the motion was filed because the brand's TV ads hocked Nutella as being part of a nutritious breakfast even though it certainly isn't.
But what is it about Nutella that's so bad? Three things: vanillin, soy lecithin, and modified palm oil. I don't really want to put any of those in my body.
Let's start with vanillin because it sounds like the name of a terrible super-villain. The stuff is derived from petroleum, people. We need to go ahead and not ingest it.
And no, before you ask, it's not vanilla. In the case of artificial vanilla flavoring, this chemical cocktail is used to fragrance the so-called "extract." Vanillin is classified as an excitotoxin, and consumption of such toxins has been linked to neurological disorders, migraines, endocrine disorders, seizures, and more.
It also contains MSG, and if you eat Chinese takeout, you know that this stuff triggers the reward center in your brain that makes you want to stuff your face. That's not good when what you're eating contains an excitotoxin.
Soy lecithin is also bad news.
Researchers found that animals that consumed soy lecithin regularly (albeit in fairly high amounts) displayed hypoactivity, poor reflexes, and decreased response to pain medications. Again, this is after much higher exposure to the additive than most of us would get through eating Nutella, but it's good to monitor intake since it is among the most popular food additives in the world. You're probably getting hit with this stuff from all sides, folks.
And last but not least, we have modified palm oil.
By nature, vegetable oils are modified because their production typically requires the use of heavy chemical additives and extreme heat processing. In Nutella, modified palm oil ups the fat factor in a way that isn't exactly healthy. In peanut butter, which is presumably Nutella's arch nemesis here in the States, the fat content is pretty high but those fats are naturally occurring.
Basically, they are the "good fats" your doctor always yammers on about. That's not the case for the oil in Nutella, which is highly processed.