Nutella is known and loved the world over as one of the most popular chocolate and nut spreads. This article covers Nutella, but also other similar chocolate spreads of different flavors, and whether or not they’re safe in pregnancy.
Is Nutella Safe For Pregnant Women? Nutella and other similar chocolate spreads are safe during pregnancy. Chocolate spreads like Nutella should be eaten in moderation throughout pregnancy as they contain high amounts of sugar and calories, and trace amounts of caffeine.
There are a few other things you might be wondering about Nutella including whether it’s safe with gestational diabetes, and how much caffeine it has, so this is all detailed below.
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I’m Craving Nutella During My Pregnancy – Is This Normal?
According to a 2004 study, chocolate is one of the most craved foods during pregnancy (source: PubMed). It’s perfectly normal to crave chocolate (and chocolate spreads like Nutella) during pregnancy.
Cravings for Nutella are nothing to be concerned about. Contrary to popular pregnancy myths, it doesn’t mean you are ‘lacking’ in any particular vitamin or mineral.
Scientists have tried to investigate why pregnant women crave chocolate so much. No clear link has been found between chocolate cravings and hormones or nutritional levels in pregnant women. The most likely explanation is that it’s a cultural influence (source: Frontiers Journal).
Chocolate is a ‘treat’ to many of us, and when you’re pregnant, it’s fine to spoil yourself from time to time. Nutella and other chocolate spreads can safely be eaten, but in moderation. Some of the reasons why are explained below:
Does Nutella Contain Caffeine?
It may surprise you to learn that most chocolate contains caffeine, in small amounts. Nutella and other chocolate spreads average 2-3mg of caffeine per 2tbsp serving (source: USDA).
Tip: I went a bit crazy and documented the caffeine content of over 130+ common chocolate bars and food with chocolate in. If you want to know how much caffeine is in your favorite treat, check out the list here.
The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 300mg per day, because it takes longer to leave the bloodstream during pregnancy (source: WHO).
Some countries recommend an even smaller amount. In the USA, the American Pregnancy Association quotes 200mg as being the upper limit (source: APA). In the UK, the NHS also advises pregnant women to stick to 200mg at the most (source: NHS).
200mg is about two average cups of coffee or six cups of average strength tea. If you’re approaching this daily limit through hot drinks or other sources, then you should check the caffeine levels in your food, too.
However, unless you’re eating really dark chocolate or cocoa, it’s unlikely that any chocolate will take you over the recommended caffeine limit. You’d have to eat an awful lot of Nutella to get a caffeine hit, and eating loads of it isn’t a healthy thing to do when you’re pregnant!
The caffeine content in Nutella is so small, it’s not significant enough to worry about during pregnancy.
Is Nutella Good For Pregnant Women?
Whether something is ‘good’ for you or not usually depends on how much of it you’re eating, particularly when it comes to sugary, chocolatey products like Nutella.
Here are some nutritional considerations of Nutella (and other similar chocolate spreads) when you’re pregnant.
The Ingredients in Nutella
The recipe for Nutella changes from country to country, so it also depends on where you’re eating it, too. On average it contains:
- 50% or so of palm oil and sugar
- 13% of hazelnuts
- Cocoa Solids and Milk Powder in varying amounts
- A small amount of vanillin (a vanilla flavoring, from vanilla beans)
Different branded chocolate spreads might contain different ratios of ingredients. They’re all pretty high in sugar and oil, though, because this is needed to make it sweet and spreadable at room temperature.
A single two-tablespoon serving of Nutella contains 200 calories, 20g of sugar, 2g protein and 10.5g of saturated fat. It also contains trace amounts of a few vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese (source: NutritionData).
It’s not worth eating Nutella to get these vitamins and minerals as you can easily get them from other healthier sources (e.g. a handful of toasted hazelnuts and a glass of milk!) without the sugar and fat.
Nutella and other chocolate spreads are totally fine as a treat, to satisfy a craving or in moderation, but whole, unprocessed foods are where it’s at when it comes to getting your vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.
Does Nutella Contain Folic Acid?
There’s always a bit of confusion about the difference between folate and folic acid. All you need to remember is:
- Folate is also known as vitamin B9, and occurs naturally in some foods
- Folic Acid is the synthetic version of folate, which is manufactured and added to food or supplements
Nutella and other spreads contain small amounts of the naturally occurring form of folate, rather than folic acid.
The USDA states that generic chocolate spread like Nutella has about 5.18µg of folate per 2tbsp serving (source: USDA).
This isn’t really enough to be significant in pregnancy, as pregnant women should aim to take 400 micrograms per day (supplements often contain more, up to 600 µg) (source: WebMD).
As is the case with its trace vitamins and minerals, Nutella shouldn’t be eaten just for its folate content as it’s only got a very small amount in it.
Can I Eat Nutella if I Have Gestational Diabetes?
The University of Sydney tested Nutella for their GI Database, and Nutella came out with a surprisingly low score of 30 on their Index (source: GlycemicIndex.com).
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Nutella should be eaten frequently or in large amounts if you have Gestational Diabetes (or any other diabetes diagnosis). Its fat content means that the sugar is released more slowly into the bloodstream, but Nutella is still very high in refined sugar.
Although small amounts are probably fine in moderation, you should still monitor your blood sugar closely. If you have gestational diabetes, contact your doctor or a medical professional before making changes to your diet.
Overall, Nutella or chocolate spread should be a sweet treat eaten in small amounts during pregnancy.
You may also like:
- A guide to how much chocolate is safe when pregnant
- An ultimate list of caffeine levels in chocolate
- Whether or not it’s safe to eat cheesecake during pregnancy
- Whether popcorn is a safe pregnancy snack
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.