What's in My Kitchen? Nutritional Yeast!
Updated: Apr 13
What is it?
Nutritional yeast (apparently referred to as “nooch”, though not by anyone I’ve ever met LOL) is an inactive form of yeast (the yeast cells are killed during processing), found in flaked, granulated or powdered form and either fortified or not.
It is described by most people as having a “cheesy” flavor, though true cheese connoisseurs would be offended by that description. The cheese it reminds it me of is the powdered cheese mix that comes with Kraft Dinner. Others say it tastes nutty. For me, it does have the tanginess of some cheeses, and is definitely in the savory range of flavors, or “umami”.
The most common form of nutritional yeast is the fortified version, which means certain nutrients have been added/increased. Even the non-fortified version is very nutritious. It is very high in many of the B vitamins, particularly B12, B6, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), folate and niacin (B3). It is also a good source of complete protein (that means it has all 9 essential amino acids), containing 8g in a ¼ cup serving and is also high in fiber.
Key Health Benefits
Nutritional yeast is not only very high in vitamin B12, but it is one of the rare non-animal sources of this vitamin, making it very popular with vegans and vegetarians. B12 is important for a healthy nervous system, DNA production, energy metabolism and the creation of red blood cells.
It contains the antioxidants glutathione and selenium. Antioxidants help protect against cell damage by counteracting free radicals, thereby reducing oxidative stress throughout the body. Oxidative stress has been linked to several chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline.
The 2 main carbohydrates in nutritional yeast are alpha-mannan and beta-glucan. These work together to support the immune system by stopping pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the intestinal lining.
Nutritional yeast’s high fiber content helps promote colon health.
Since it is non-dairy, virtually fat-free, gluten-free, sugar free and low in sodium, it will work well with almost anyone’s dietary choices or restrictions.
How to Eat It
Nutritional yeast is ready to eat as is – no cooking required. Some ways to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:
· Shake on top of salads, soups, pasta or eggs to add flavor as well as nutrition
· Use in casseroles, potatoes “au gratin” or macaroni and “cheese” dishes for a tangy, non- dairy creaminess
· Use on popcorn as a nutritious flavouring
A word of caution: as with any yeast, which is a fungus, there is a chance that you could get too much of this good thing. Fungi can potentially contain toxic molds that could encourage the growth of candida albicans in your gut, which may result in throwing off your microbiome balance. If you have any issues with your gut, pay attention to how eating nutritional yeast makes you feel. If you get undesirable effects like bloating, gas, indigestion etc. reconsider eating too much of it.
To get some recipes to try or more information on “nooch”, or have any other nutrition related questions, do reach out.