What Is Nutritional Yeast and What Are Its Benefits?

If you’re like most people, you have probably never heard of nutritional yeast before. So what is it? Nutritional yeast is a type of fungi that is grown on molasses or sugar beets.

It is then harvested, dried, and packaged for sale as a food product. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor and can be used as a condiment or ingredient in recipes. It is also high in B-complex vitamins and minerals, making it a good source of nutrition.

In this post, we will discuss the benefits of nutritional yeast and how to use it in your diet!

So, What Exactly Is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of single-celled organism. It has been fortified with additional vitamins and minerals to give it an extra health boost. Nutritional yeast is naturally gluten-free and vegan, making it an ideal option for those on special diets.

You can’t make beer or bread with this yeast as you would be able to with baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast, because nutritional yeast is inactive.

There are two variations of nutritional yeast on the market: fortified and unfortified.

Unfortified Nutritional Yeast

As the name suggests, unfortified nutritional yeast does not contain additional vitamins and minerals. This version has a cheesy flavor but lacks some of the nutrition of fortified yeast. However, this product is in its most natural form.

Fortified Nutritional Yeast

Fortified nutritional yeast is the most popular option. It contains additional B-complex vitamins, such as thiamine and folic acid, as well as minerals like zinc and selenium. This version has a savory flavor that can be used in a variety of dishes or simply sprinkled on top of food for added flavor and nutrition.

Nutritional Yeast Benefits

Nutritional yeast is a healthy way to level up your meals. Not only does it add flavor to your dishes, but it also provides a host of health benefits. Here are some of the most notable:

1. Rich in B-Complex Vitamins

Nutritional yeast is naturally high in essential B-complex vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. These vitamins help convert the food you eat into energy, while also supporting your immune system and promoting healthy hair, skin and nails.

2. Excellent Source of Protein

One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains up to 8 grams of protein. This makes it a great source for vegans and vegetarians who need to get their daily dose of protein from plant-based sources.

3. Trace Minerals

Fortified nutritional yeast also contains trace minerals such as zinc, manganese selenium and molybdenum. These minerals are essential for a healthy body, helping to support your immune system, thyroid function and metabolism.

4. Dairy-Free Alternative

Nutritional yeast can be used as a dairy-free alternative to cheese or Parmesan. It’s perfect for adding a cheesy flavor to gluten-free dishes like pasta, pizza, and sauces.

5. It May Lower Your Cholesterol

A clinical study showed that 8 weeks with a daily intake of 15 grams of nutritional yeast per day was able to reduce a group’s cholesterol by up to 6%. This may be due to beta-glucan, a type of fiber found in nutritional yeast, which is a soluble fiber byproduct of yeast. This byproduct also helps to lower the risk of heart disease.

6. It Can Boost Your Immune System

Nutritional yeast is a good source of beta-glucan and antioxidants, which may help to strengthen your immune system and protect against diseases. Beta-glucan has been shown to be effective in many ways, specifically by supporting immunity and health. When taken regularly, it can help improve the gut microbiome and activate important immune cells.

It also has alpha mannan, which is an anti-inflammatory compound that may help reduce inflammation in the body, which boosts the immense system.

7. It’s Full of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are molecules that act as a defense against free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells. Free radicals can come from environmental sources such as UV radiation, air pollution, and smoking, as well as our own metabolic processes. Antioxidants are able to neutralize these unstable molecules by donating an electron to them, making them less reactive.

Nutritional yeast is a great source of antioxidants, specifically glutathione and selenium which help to protect cells from oxidative damage.

8. It Provides B-12 for Vegans and Vegetarians

Vegans and vegetarians can easily become deficient in vitamin B-12 since this vitamin is primarily found in animal products. Fortified nutritional yeast is a great vegan-friendly source of B-12, which helps to maintain healthy nerve cells and produce DNA.

The Best Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast can be added to a variety of dishes for a nutty, cheesy flavor. Here are some ideas on how to use it:

  • Sprinkle it over popcorn or salads
  • Make a dairy-free cheese sauce
  • Add it to your oatmeal or smoothies
  • Mix it into mashed potatoes
  • Use it as a topping for pizza or tacos
  • Put it in rich savory stews
  • Use it as a supplement in your dog’s food

What Constitutes a Serving of Nutritional Yeast?

You’ll refer to specific recipes to determine the accurate serving size. In general, you will use between 5 to 10 grams or 2 to 4 teaspoons in a meal.

FAQs: What is Nutritional Yeast?

Does Nutritional Yeast Go Bad?

Nutritional yeast does not go bad per se, but it can lose potency over time. It is best to store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. When properly stored, it will last on your shelf for 2 years.

You can use expired nutritional yeast for anywhere between 2 to 4 months after its expiration date, but be aware of any changes in color or texture.

Storing your nutritional yeast in the fridge may extend its shelf life. This is especially helpful during hotter summer months in the pantry.

Is Nutritional Yeast Gluten-Free?

Yes, nutritional yeast is gluten-free. It is made from a single-celled organism and has no relation to wheat or other grains and therefore does not contain gluten. However, it’s important to check the packaging to ensure that it has not been processed in a facility with gluten products.

Can I Eat Nutritional Yeast Every Day?

Yes, you can eat nutritional yeast every day as part of a healthy diet. Be sure to follow the serving size as mentioned previously, but enjoy the health benefits of nutritional yeast in your everyday meals.

A small group of individuals may experience side effects with excessive consumption, including headaches or upset stomach. If you experience any negative effects, it is best to reduce your intake and seek medical advice if needed.

What Does Nutritional Yeast Taste Like?

Nutritional yeast has a nutty, savory flavor that is often described as cheesy. It is highly versatile and can transform your dishes into something new. It has umami and savory notes that make it an excellent topping or seasoning.

Does Nutritional Yeast Need to Be Refrigerated?

It’s not necessary to refrigerate nutritional yeast, but you can extend its shelf life by storing it in an air-tight container in the fridge. The cooler temperature helps to preserve its potency and flavor. The fridge will also prevent sunlight from hitting the yeast, so it won’t break down as quickly.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, nutritional yeast is a healthy and versatile food that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is high in B vitamins and protein and provides great flavor. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, incorporating nutritional yeast into your diet can provide you with numerous health benefits. So why not give it a try? It could be the perfect ingredient to add flavor and nutrition to your meals.

Happy cooking!

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