Nutritional Yeast: What is it and why should you eat it?

As I discovered more and more vegan recipes, I kept seeing one ingredient that totally baffled me: nutritional yeast. I didn’t know what it was and I had never cooked with “yeast” before so whenever I saw that scary ingredient I would immediately move on to the next recipe.

I soon noticed that nutritional yeast was everywhere and I was now seeing my favorite vegan YouTubers using it. Seeing someone else use it made it a bit less scary. But still, what the heck was that yellow powder?!

So I did some research to get myself more familiar with it and thought I would share with you all. I’ve now started incorporating nutritional yeast into some of my dishes and love it! Trust me, once you learn about its cheesy flavor and health benefits, you’ll be adding it to all your dishes, too. Intrigued? Let’s dig in!

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What is Nutritional Yeast?

Also referred to as nooch, nutritional yeast made from a single-cell organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on sugar cane and beet molasses. It is then harvested and pasteurized, which “deactivates” it. Because it is part of the fungi family, like mushrooms, no animals are harmed or exploited to create it.

Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor that many vegans use to emulate cheese in their recipes. It can also be used as a thickening agent for sauces and dressings. Because it’s an inactive yeast, though, it can’t be used for baking. Nutritional yeast can range from a fine powder to larger flakes.

On top of tasting incredible, nutritional yeast is also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. At the same time, it’s also low in sodium, fat-free, gluten-free, and doesn’t contain any added sugars or preservatives.

Vitamins and Nutrients

Protein/Amino Acids
With all of the 18 amino acids, nutritional yeast is a complete protein ideal for mental health and metabolism.

B Vitamins
Nutritional yeast also contains high levels of thiamine (vitamin B1), which is an essential nutrient that our body does not produce. Thiamine is used by nearly every cell in our body to support energy levels and metabolize carbohydrates.

In addition to B1, nutritional yeast contains other B vitamins that promote healthy hair, skin and nails. Vitamin B5 and B7(Biotin) reduce redness and skin spots, resulting in younger-looking skin. Vitamin B3 (Niacin) has been found to treat chronic acne and improve skin overall.

Nutritional yeast is often fortified with B12, which is a vital vitamin in the production of DNA and the health of nerve and blood cells. Nutritional yeast is also rich in folate (vitamin B9), which also is used to produce DNA. In pregnant women, getting adequate intakes of folate may help prevent major birth defects, such as spina bifida.

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When to use it

Nutritional yeast is a versatile ingredient that you can use in many dishes. Because of its cheesy flavor, it makes a great addition to pasta, whether you sprinkle it on top or mix it into the sauce. It’s also delicious on mashed or baked potatoes and in soups.

Before pouring a bunch of it in tonight’s dinner recipe, start off adding small amounts to your dishes and slowly work in more as you get accustomed to it.

Did that help answer some of your questions? What dish will you be trying nutritional yeast in first?

Do you already use nutritional yeast? What is your favorite dish to use it in?

Nutrition Facts label for KAL Nutritional Yeast PowderNutritionLabel

25 thoughts on “Nutritional Yeast: What is it and why should you eat it?

  1. Great post, thank you! Like you, I always move past the recipes that suggest using nutritional yeast…maybe after this I will be brave enough to try it (if I can find anywhere in the UK that sells it!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go for it!

      Check your health food store. They will definitely have it. But I would also guess that any regular grocery store would carry it. It’s just a matter of finding it in the aisles.

      Good luck on your search and let me know what you think!

      Like

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