Nutritional Yeast: The Next “Superfood”?

Nutritional Yeast blog photo.jpg

While many people are probably familiar with the type of yeast used to leaven bread, most have never heard of nutritional yeast, a type of inactivated yeast that has gained recent popularity for its nutritional benefits and unique taste. Sometimes referred to as “Nooch”, Nutritional yeast is different from conventional yeast in that it is grown on a glucose medium such as molasses or sugar cane and is inactivated by heat and then dried. The result is a golden flake-like product that is considered to be a “nutrient powerhouse” by many Dietitians.

So what makes nutritional yeast so special? For starters, it is packed with essential B vitamins, fiber, protein, and other key nutrients such as folate and iron. It is also one of the few plant-based sources of vitamin B12, which is necessary for DNA and red blood cell production, converting food into energy, and proper nerve function.

Just 2 Tablespoons (about 10gm) of nutritional yeast contains the following nutritional profile:

  • 40 calories

  • 4 gm protein

  • 0 gm fat

  • 2gm fiber

  • 360% DV* of Thiamin (B1)

  • 140% DV of Niacin (B3)

  • 80% DV of Folic Acid

  • 320% DV of Riboflavin (B2)

  • 280% DV of Vitamin B6

  • 80% DV of Vitamin B12

  • 4% DV of Iron

  • 12% DV of Zinc

*DV=Daily Value

Nutritional yeast also is a natural source of probiotic compounds that can help aid in proper digestion and it also contains the compound glutathione which can help preserve and promote proper immune functioning. Because of its nutty and cheese-like flavor, nutritional yeast is popular in the vegan community as a cheese alternative, and is also a great vegan protein source. Nutritional yeast is also gluten free, sugar free, and free from artificial colors or ingredients, making it an easy addition to just about anyone’s diet.

Ideas to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:

  • Add it to soups and sauces as a thickener and flavor enhancer

  • Sprinkle it on popcorn or your favorite pasta

  • Toss in your favorite salad

  • Add to smoothies

  • Create “Cashew cheese” by blending it with soaked cashews, a dash of salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice which can be poured over pasta or used as a dip or spread

Where to buy Nutritional Yeast:

Due to its gaining popularity, nutritional yeast can be found in many health food stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Trader Joes. It can also be easily purchased online.

Can’t wait to try it? Here are some recipe links to get you started!

What are your thoughts on nutritional yeast? Feel free to share your comments below!