Nutritional yeast is something I discovered when I was trying out a vegan diet. I couldn't believe I had never heard of it before, especially since is has so many great benefits. I came across this article by Lynn Maleh and thought it was the perfect one to share. Have you heard of or tried nutritional yeast before?
If you’ve committed to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you’ve probably heard of nutritional yeast, affectionately referred to as “nooch” by its many loyal followers. So if you’ve been wondering what all the hype is about, below is a quick overview of what nutritional yeast is, 6 of its key benefits, and how to incorporate this superfood into your healthy diet.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is inactive yeast (no leavening) derived from cane and beet molasses. B vitamins are pumped into the yeast through healthy bacteria, before being dried in flake or powder form. While “nutritional yeast” may not invoke the same kind of mouthwatering response as “mango curry” or “chocolate mousse,” this vitamin-packed supplement has a tasty cheesy/nutty flavor, great in a wide variety of recipes. Just remember, nutritional yeast cannot be considered “raw,” as it undergoes pasteurization.
What are the benefits of nutritional yeast?
1. Nutritional Density. At just 80 calories per serving, with no gluten, dairy, sugar, or cholesterol, nutritional yeast ensures you get the most bang for your calorie buck. Don’t forget that each spoonful is packed with protein, B-complex vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
2. Protein Power. As a vegan or vegetarian, it can be difficult to meet your nine essential amino acid needs. Nutritional yeast is among the very few meat-free foods that encompasses all nine – tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, valine, and histidine. As you may remember from chemistry class, amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and protein is essential for building and repairing muscle and tissue, producing blood cells, and regulating nutrient transport throughout your body.
3. Skip that cup of coffee! Nutritional yeast offers the entire range of B-complex vitamins, which improve energy and mood throughout the day. Fight fatigue, depression, stress, and high cholesterol with the B-vitamins in a single serving of nutritional yeast!
4. Immunity Boosting. Beta-glucan, found in nutritional yeast, is another powerhouse ingredient. This non-digestible complex sugar promotes a healthy immune system by attacking cellular debris and pathogens. It releases immune supporting cytokines, which provide antioxidant support. The high content of zinc in nutritional yeast is also excellent for regulating cell production in the immune system, as well as contributing to improved skin, weight loss, better bone health, and naturally reducing prostate cancer cell growth.
5. Natural Detoxification. While California avocados are known as incredible glutathione sources, their contents of glutathione are only a fraction of nutritional yeast’s. Glutathione aids in natural detoxification, protecting cells from nasty free-radicals.
6. Age Gracefully. If you’re health isn’t enough of a reason for you to invest in nutritional yeast, then maybe your vanity is. Nutritional yeast provides anti-aging nucleotides, the building blocks of genetic-defining DNA and RNA. According to Dr. Benjamin Frank, author of Nucleic Acid Therapy in Aging and Degenerative Disease and Dr. Frank’s No Aging Diet: Eat and Grow Younger, diets rich in DNA and RNA supporting foods improve skin health and appearance, vision, memory, hair loss, arthritis, and heart disease. In addition to nutritional yeast, you can get these great anti-aging benefits from seafood, mushrooms, radishes, onions, and asparagus.
Where can I buy nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is available in most health food stores. I buy mine in bulk from Whole Foods; ask a store clerk to help you locate it in the store. You can also buy nutritional yeast online; I’ve read great reviews of Bob’s Red Mill’s nutritional yeast.
What do I do with nutritional yeast?
I usually like to use nutritional yeast like I would parmesan cheese. It’s great sprinkled on popcorn, baked potatoes, poultry, seafood, bread dough, soups, salads, and pasta dishes, and it provides a pleasantly cheese-like flavor. There are plenty of great recipes for using nutritional yeast, particularly as bases for vegan “cheese” sauces (mac and cheese anyone?) or grilled “uncheese” sandwiches. You can even make a brick of your own homemade vegan cheese.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian looking to supplement those B vitamins or a content carnivore hoping to add some nutrition to your diet, be sure to check out nutritional yeast at your local health food store. Explore the possibilities, and be sure to share your recipes!
Lynn Maleh is an LA-based writer, who contributes to a variety of foodie and environmental blogs. She supports local, sustainable, and ethical eating movements.
Today I'm linking up with: