Vegan Wonder

Unlock the Power of Nutritional Yeast: Your Guide to Unlocking Its Incredible Benefits

If you haven’t tried nutritional yeast yet, you might be living under a very large rock. Or, you know, just living a very normal life. But if you’re into plant-based eating, being health-conscious, vegan, or just really into cheese, you’ve probably heard of this superfood. It’s a staple in the kitchens of many health-conscious people, and it’s time you got in on the action. Read on to find out what nutritional yeast is, where it comes from, how it can benefit you, and how you can use it.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. That means it comes from the same family of yeast that is used to ferment beer and bread, but it’s not alive when you eat it. It’s harvested and then dried, so all of the nutritious parts are still there for you to enjoy. It is often fortified with vitamins, particularly B-vitamins.

Brewer’s yeast is also made from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but it is not deactivated. That means the yeast is still alive and may continue fermenting in your gut, which can cause digestive issues for some people. Nutritional yeast, on the other hand, is dead and shouldn’t cause any digestive issues. It’s often used as a vegan and vegetarian alternative to parmesan cheese because of its nutty, savory flavor.

The Nutritional Profile of Nutritional Yeast

One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains about 60 calories, 1 gram of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fiber. It’s also incredibly rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. Here are some of the nutrients you get from one tablespoon of nutritional yeast:

  • 50% of your daily need of vitamin B12
  • 30% of your daily need of vitamin B6 and niacin
  • 20% of your daily need of zinc, chromium, selenium, and folate
  • 18% of your daily need of fiber
  • 15% of your daily need of protein
  • 10% of your daily need of iron

It also contains glutathione and other antioxidants.

While some brands of nutritional yeast are fortified with these nutrients, others are not. Make sure to read the label if you’re trying to get a specific nutrient from your nutritional yeast.

Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

The high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in nutritional yeast means that it has a lot of health benefits. Here are some of the ways it can help you:

  • Supports your immune system: Nutritional yeast contains a number of nutrients that can help support your immune system. Vitamin B6, for example, has been shown to enhance white blood cell function, while vitamin B12 can help reduce inflammation. The antioxidants in nutritional yeast can also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in your body.
  • Helps with cardiovascular health: The selenium and chromium in nutritional yeast can help lower your cholesterol levels and regulate your blood pressure.
  • Promotes gut health: The fiber in nutritional yeast can help promote a healthy gut microbiome. It also contains nutrients that can help your body absorb nutrients from the food you eat.

Culinary Uses of Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has a savory, “cheesy” flavor, which makes it a great topping for popcorn, salads, and pasta. It’s often used in vegan and vegetarian recipes as a cheese substitute. You can use it to make:

  • Cheese sauces and dips
  • Meat substitutes and casseroles

It can also be used as a thickening agent and flavor booster in baking and cooking. You can add it to breads, crackers, and more.

Purchasing and Storing Nutritional Yeast

You can buy nutritional yeast in flakes, powder, or granules. Fortified versions are available in all three forms. If you’re buying it for the nutritional benefits, make sure it’s fortified with the vitamins and minerals you’re looking for.

Nutritional yeast should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It can last up to six months, but the freshness and flavor will start to deteriorate over time. If it starts to smell bad or taste off, it’s time to buy a new batch.

Incorporating Nutritional Yeast into Your Diet

If you’re new to nutritional yeast, start by adding just a little bit to your food. About a teaspoon is a good place to start. You can work your way up to a tablespoon or more as your body adjusts to the fiber and nutrients.

Here are some creative ways to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:

  • Sprinkle it on popcorn
  • Add it to scrambled eggs or an omelette
  • Sprinkle it on salads or avocado toast
  • Use it to make a vegan parmesan cheese
  • Add it to soups and stews
  • Use it to make a vegan mac and cheese
  • Sprinkle it on vegetables before roasting
  • Add it to smoothies or other beverages

Have fun experimenting with nutritional yeast and find new ways to incorporate it into your favorite dishes.