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A Low-Carb Nutella? – Diabetes Daily

Few sweets inspire devotion and enthusiasm quite like Nutella, the outrageously delicious hazelnut-cocoa spread. A jar of Nutella is almost universally recognized as a very dangerous thing to keep in the pantry, and it takes rare self-restraint not to attack it with a spoon as soon as nobody’s watching. People with diabetes: beware!

Along comes an innovative product named Incredo Sugar, which has just released its own hazelnut cocoa spread, named Incredo Spread. The business boasts that its spread has 48% less sugar, and that it tastes just as good.

A low-carb Nutella? Could it possibly be true?

Read on for our review. 

Incredo Sugar

The heart of the product is an ingredient that parent company DouxMatok calls Incredo Sugar. The formula is a “sugar reduction solution” that amplifies the taste of natural sugar, allowing manufacturers to use less of the stuff. The invention was named one of 2020’s best by Time Magazine.

Incredo Sugar is not a sugar alternative or replacement—it’s made with the good stuff, real sugar cane or sugar beets. The difference is in the shape of Incredo Sugar crystals, which are designed to more quickly interact with our saliva and taste buds. When we eat regular sugar, a high percentage gets washed down towards the stomach without actually contributing any flavor. Incredo Sugar connects with your taste buds, and therefore your brain, at a much higher rate, meaning that a smaller amount has a bigger effect.

The hazelnut spreads are the first product made with Incredo Sugar available to consumers, and the business promises much more to come.

Flavor

These spreads taste great

There are two options today: Hazelnut Cocoa and Dark Cocoa Salted Caramel. The former is the Nutella equivalent, and I think it would take a very sensitive taster to distinguish between the lower-sugar version and the real thing. 

The Dark Cocoa Salted Caramel flavor is also delicious, and would make a heck of good topping for vanilla ice cream.

Source: Incredo Sugar

I’m very sensitive to the weird flavors and aftertastes from alternative sugars, and there’s none of that here. It absolutely tastes like real sugar, which it is.

Don’t just take my word for it. I drizzled some of the hazelnut spread over banana pancakes for my children—two tiny humans with a pronounced preference for unrestrained high-carb eating—and they loved it.

Nutritional Profile

The fat, protein, and caloric contents of the Increado Spreads are very close to those of Nutella. The significant difference is the ratio of sugar to fiber. Nutella has 22 grams of total carbohydrates, 21 from sugar, and a scant 1 gram of fiber, presumably from the hazelnuts. Increado’s hazelnut cocoa spread has 20 grams of total carbs, but 8 grams of dietary fiber. Most of that fiber must come from chicory root inulin, a trendy and supposedly very healthy ingredient that probably helps to balance out the texture of the spread.

Many Nutella eaters have noted with regret that their favorite snack contains more sugar and palm oil than it does hazelnuts. Not so with the Incredo Spread: organic hazelnuts are listed first on the ingredients panel. The same goes for the cocoa & caramel spread.

Glycemic Impact

It’s impossible to predict how Incredo Spreads will impact your blood sugar. If you ask a group of people with diabetes how fiber spikes their glucose levels, you’ll get more than a few different answers.

If fiber reliably spikes you just as much as simple carbohydrates do, then maybe the Incredo Spreads won’t represent much of an improvement over the original Nutella. I can usually deduct fiber from total carbohydrates and bolus for net carbs, and my taste test suggests that for me, Increado Spreads do have a less significant impact on my blood sugar.

Is it diabetes-friendly? That’s up to you. There’s no question that 12 grams of net carbohydrates per serving is meaningfully less than 21 grams, but it’s still likely enough for insulin-users to need to deliver a bolus. For keto and low-carb dieters, it probably counts as a “cheat” item. (Especially considering how difficult it is to stop eat just one portion.) But as far as splurges go, you’re getting a ton of sweetness and flavor for a very modest number of carbohydrates.

Eating Ideas

So, how are you supposed to eat it? Nutella is almost always slathered on top of foods that are starchy, and oftentimes sweet—think toast, pancakes, and crepes. That might be good enough for most sugar-avoiders, but those of us with diabetes also have to factor in the blood sugar consequences of the other carbohydrates in these snacks. On a popular list of 50 Ways to Eat Nutella, only a handful don’t involve some kind of dessert or baked good, and one of them is “on celery.” (No thanks.)

Here are a few lower-carb ways you might enjoy these less-carby spreads:

– Dipped with berries

– Spread on low-carb toast or pastries

– In a keto ice cream sundae

– In a hot chocolate, with low-sugar soy/almond milk

– In a frosting for low-carb cake

– With a spoon … or your finger

Sustainability

There’s been some controversy over the years about Nutella’s environmental impact. A particular issue is the product’s high amount of palm oil, a ubiquitous ingredient that is a major driver of global environmental degradation. Nutella now claims only to use sustainable palm oil, but some advocates remain suspicious about the company’s ecological legacy and future. 

Incredo hopes to address such concerns. The product replaces palm oil with sunflower oil (although my brief research into the topic suggests that this may not be much of an improvement). The spreads are also made with organic hazelnuts, non-GMO ingredients, and claim that the reduced sugar content further reduces the ecological footprint. 

Bottom Line

Incredo Spreads are expensive ($22.95 for two tubs), but they’re also pretty darn delicious, and a ~50% reduction in sugar content is nothing to sneeze at. True hazelnut spread lovers may find the splurge worthwhile, and should enjoy the somewhat less intense blood sugar impact.

 



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