Nutritional Yeast 101
Nutritional yeast, “NOOCH” for short, is a deactivated yeast that. It is derived from a species of yeast know as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is the same species that Brewer’s yeast and Baker’s yeast are derived from. They differ, HOWEVER, in that brewer’s yeast is grown only on hops and bakers yeast is active, whereas nutritional yeast can be grown on a variety of sources and it is put through a heating and drying process that renders it inactive.
Primarily, nutritional yeast is used as a supplement for those with dietary restrictions to add not only additional flavor to your meal, but also several health benefits along with it.
What’s In It?
It is dairy free, usually gluten free, low in fat and contains no sugar or soy. Nutritional yeast is an EXCELLENT source of vitamins, minerals and high-quality protein. Specifically (per 1/4 cup serving), there are only:
• 60 calories
• 8 grams of protein
• 3 grams of fiber
• Vitamin & minerals (including numerous B Vitamins, Potassium, Calcium and Iron)
Nutritional yeast serves as a versatile source of supplementation for those in need of a little something extra in their food due to dietary restrictions.
• It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food. One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein, which makes for an easy solution for vegans needing to add protein to their meals.
• It contains many B vitamins. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 30–180% of the RDI for B vitamins and when fortified, it is especially rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
• It contains up to 30% of the RDI for trace minerals, such as zinc, selenium, manganese and molybdenum. Trace minerals are involved in gene regulation, metabolism, growth and immunity.
Potential Side Effects
While nutritional yeast is highly beneficial for most, there are some individuals for whom nutritional yeast is NOT suitable for.
Those with IBD, glaucoma, hypertension or a higher risk of gout should avoid using nutritional yeast as it may worsen their symptoms. In large doses, it can cause digestive discomfort or facial flushing due to its high fiber and niacin content, and it may also contain tyramine and MSG, which can trigger headaches in some individuals (note that MSG is only present in nutritional yeast if it has been added during processing or manufacturing). In order to avoid these side effects, you should try adding nutritional yeast into your diet by introducing it slowly and sticking to lower doses to minimize unwanted side effects.
Where Can I Find It?
You can find nutritional yeast in most grocery stores, health food shops as well as online. It comes in the form of flakes or in the form of powder and there are two types of yeast:
• Unfortified: does not contain any added vitamins or minerals. It only contains the vitamins and minerals that are naturally produced by the yeast cells as they grow.
• Fortified: contains synthetic vitamins added during the manufacturing process to boost nutrient content. If vitamins have been added to the yeast, they will be included in the ingredients list.
How To Use It
Nutritional yeast’s flavor can be described as savory, umami or cheesy. It is often used as an ingredient in creamy, dairy-free cheese substitutes and as a topper for foods such as popcorn, pasta, and French fries!
Here are a few quick examples on how to incorporate/substitute it into meals:
• On popcorn as alternative to butter/salt
• In risotto instead of parmesan cheese
• Added to creamy soups
• Added to scrambled eggs or tofu scramble
• Mixed into nut roast or stuffing
• Vegan cheese sauce (recipe here) which can be used in Vegan Mac-N-Cheese!