Flickr: Emily Poisel

What's Really in Your Nutella?

Chances are, if you've ever had Nutella, then you're a fan. The wildly popular chocolate hazelnut spread, once hard to get here in U.S. grocery stores, is now used in just about anything that needs a sweet, chocolatey filling or topping: toast, crepes, chocolate cake, cookies, brownies, ice cream. Really, the list is endless. And according to the maker, Nutella ingredients are simple and healthy.

But do you really know what's in your jar of Nutella? Reddit user MrFlow posted this image as a visual representation of Nutella ingredients and their ratio to one another in the processed hazelnut spread.

What Nutella is actually made of. from r/interestingasfuck

The first thing that jumps out at you is the sugar content. It's the first ingredient listed and according to the image, equals the amount of the rest of the ingredients combined. In fact, sugar makes up 56.3 percent of the spread.

Now, Nutella is a sweet treat, so the list of Nutella ingredients including the amount of sugar isn't a big surprise. But in a product often marketed as a health food, the sugar seems to contradict that statement. And in April 2012, Ferrero, the company based in Italy that makes Nutella, paid $3 million as part of a class action lawsuit for false advertising that claimed the spread was "part of a nutritious breakfast."

Palm oil is the next major ingredient. While the vegetable oil is necessary to give Nutella its texture and long shelf life, there is also an environmental and health concern about its use.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) produced a study in 2016 which noted palm oil that is processed at about 400° Fahrenheit releases a chemical called glycidyl fatty acid esters. This chemical has been found to cause cancer in rats and mice, so the EFSA classifies it as a potential health risk.

One note: the study isn't saying that palm oil itself causes cancer, but that heating it over a certain temperature can release these particular chemicals. It's the processing that's an issue in this instance. Skimmed milk powder, cocoa and hazelnuts make up the rest of the pictured ingredients, though it should also be noted that the spread includes vanillin, an artificial flavor, and soy lecithin, which is an emulsifier.

Learning the ingredient list for Nutella might make you want to give the hazelnut and chocolate spread up. But you don't have to—it's easy to make on your own.

How to Make Homemade Nutella

This easy recipe from POPSUGAR Food lets you make your own chocolate hazelnut spread.

It's also simple to tweak the recipe—add less sugar or use almonds or pecans instead of hazelnuts. No, those changes don't technically make it Nutella, but they do make a good spread!

And once you have your homemade Nutella recipe, you can use it to make good recipes even better. Here are a couple of our favorites:

1. Salted Caramel Mocha + Nutella Brownies

nutella ingredientsHalf Baked HarvestDo I even need to say anything about this one? Decadent and tasty, this recipe will make everyone you know happy (that is, if you save enough to share with them).

2. 1-Bowl Nutella Banana Bread

And on the healthier side, here's a banana bread recipe that's also vegan and gluten free. Oh, and really good!

Watch: The 8 Health Benefits of Vodka

This post was originally published on February 19, 2018.