This article was submitted by JTess DiNapoli, an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist.
Nutritional yeast (a.k.a Nooch) is notorious for being the ultimate vegan superfood because of the vitamins and minerals it provides that are commonly lacking in any vegan recipe. Such a powerhouse of a food can be added to any diet, and we’ll show you just how easy that can be!
So, what exactly is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast of Saccharomyces cerevisiae made from sugarcane and beet molasses. Nutritional yeast is grown in the mixed batch of sugarcane and beet molasses, and the mixture is left for the fermentation process. Once the fermentation process is done then the yeast is harvested, washed, pasteurized, dried and packaged.
This yeast is grown specifically to be consumed as a food product, so it’s completely healthy and safe (unless you have a yeast allergy or intolerance). Unlike baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast, the nutritional yeast cells are killed and processed to make it ready for human consumption and is known for its highly nutritious value.
HOW IT IS PRODUCED
The process of producing nutritional yeast can be divided into 6 steps.
- Seeding: the seed of the yeast is typically grown in a sterile environment and then transferred to the chamber containing sugarcane and beet molasses.
- Cultivation: cultivation is the process where the magic happens; optimum temperature and pH level is maintained for the optimum growth of the yeast. Yeast is provided with all the essentials for growth.
- Harvesting: after the cultivation of yeast, the fermented yeast liquid is passed through the process that concentrates the yeast cells. As a result, an off-white liquid is formed which is generally known as the yeast cream.
- Fortification: now it is time to pasteurize the nutritional yeast cream and make the yeast inactive. Addition of vitamins is also done in this phase to increase the potency.
- Drying: the liquid is dehydrated to get it into a form of flakes, granules or powder.
- Packaging: the final process of production, the nutritional yeast is packaged and ready to supplement your food with healthy vitamins and minerals.
One drawback of nutritional yeast production is the emission of acetaldehyde and regulations have been set in place to limit it.
TYPES OF NUTRITIONAL YEAST
Nutritional yeast has been classified into two categories: fortified and unfortified.
Unfortified: This is a pure form of the yeast that is not altered by any external means. It contains the vitamins and minerals that are produced naturally in the process of its production.
Fortified: This fortified yeast has been supplemented with synthetic vitamins to boost its nutrient content. Most nutritional yeast products available in a market are “fortified nutritional yeast” because yeast can’t produce B12, so it needs to be added synthetically.
Nutritional yeast is sold in different forms like powder, granules, and flakes. It has a cheesy, nutty or savory flavor and many use it as an alternative to cheese in any vegan recipe (especially the glorious cheesy flavor of Parmesan). It’s also gluten-free, which is great news for anyone that has a sensitivity to gluten and wants to add some flavor to their cooking.
BENEFITS OF CONSUMING NUTRITIONAL YEAST
Nutritional yeast is rich not only in B-vitamins, but also in other vital vitamins and minerals as well. 1/4 cup (16 grams) of Nooch contains approximately 45-60 Calories and 8-10 grams of protein, 25 mg of sodium, 20% daily requirement of zinc and 6% magnesium. It contains an abundance of B vitamins like:
- 640 percent DV of thiamine (vitamin B1)
- 570 percent DV of riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- 480 percent DV of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- 280 percent DV of niacin (Vitamin B3)
- 130 percent DV of vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- 60 percent DV of folate (vitamin B9)
It should be noted that the content of vitamins and minerals can vary widely in different brands and that this is the composition of a typical package of fortified nutritional yeast. For example, while some may have as low as 130% DV for vitamin B12, others can go as high as 730% per serving. Because of the high nutritional value, you only need a small amount to get its benefits, and it’s usually not advised to over-consume nutritional yeast (1/4 cup is the standard serving size).
Wonder food for vegans
It can be called a wonder food for vegans because there are fewer options in this type of diet that fulfill the body’s B12 needs. Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products like meat, eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy, which makes it difficult for vegans to obtain this important nutritional value. This yeast can easily satisfy their daily B-Vitamin requirements.
Feel more energetic
B vitamins have always been related to improving mental alertness and energy. People that have a deficiency in B vitamins are found to experience constant fatigue and sleepiness. Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast are enough to satisfy your daily B needs.
Better immune system
Nutritional yeast contains compounds like beta-1,3 glucan, trehalose, mannan, and glutathione, which are associated with enhanced immunity. A separate study conducted on endurance runners found that athletes who supplemented with nutritional yeast were less likely to experience respiratory tract infection symptoms and found to have better health, mental alertness, and better overall mind and body health.
Improved mental focus and alertness
Dizziness, mental fatigue, and constant mood swings have always been related to a deficiency of B-Vitamins, apart from containing a large variety of other minerals and vitamins nutritional yeast contains a high amount of vitamin B, which make it easier for you to fulfill body’s daily requirement.
Contains much needed 9 essential amino acids
Everyone is aware of the role of protein in the growth of a healthy body and its importance in muscle development and function.
Essential amino acids cannot be produced by our body and therefore must be obtained from our diet. This makes Nooch a complete protein because it provides all the essential vitamins we need. It’s one of the few plant-based superfoods that can do that.
Healthy skin, hair, and nails
With the abundance of vitamins and minerals, nutritional yeast isn’t just a superfood for muscle development but for the development of skin, hair, and nails as well. Vitamin B5 and biotin play an important role in reducing skin aging and pigmentation and a serving of nutritional yeast can fulfill your daily requirements for healthy and younger skin.
DELICIOUS RECIPES IT CAN BE ADDED TO
As we have seen, fortified nutritional yeast is a great source of so many vitamins and minerals including B12 that makes it very beneficial for health, but for the hardcore nutritional yeast lover, it is not always about the benefits it provides.
Nutritional yeast has been loved for its cheesy, nutty or savory flavor which makes it easy to combine with many different recipes; it has been used for garnishing or as an essential ingredient of many food dishes. For those who are lactose or gluten intolerant nutritional yeast has emerged as a great alternative, it can be sprinkled over pasta, salads, soups, shakes or smoothies.
Here are 5 of our favourite Naughty Nutrition nooch recipes:
The Best Sweet Potato Fry Hack Ever (yes, you guessed it it’s nooch)
Crispy Un-Fried Chicken Thighs (Healthy KFC Copycat)
Best Nutritional Yeast Brands
Bob’s Red Mill Large Flake Nutritional Yeast (Pack of 4)
We absolutely love Bob’s Red Mill for so many products, and this pack is a great value to keep stocked in your pantry. Add it to dips, sauces, dressings and marinades or simply used as a delicious savoury and cheesy topping. This fortified nutritional yeast brand is one of the best in the market.
Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning
Bragg’s fortified seasoning provides great taste and convenience to a variety of foods. It’s in a convenient container that you can use to simply add a nutritional boost sprinkle to your salads, veggies, soups, pasta and popcorn.
Sari Foods Pure Natural Non-fortified Nutritional Yeast Flakes
If you’re looking for a non-fortified nutritional yeast then this is the one for you. It naturally contains 50 percent protein, 25 percent fiber and many vitamins and minerals including iron, selenium, zinc and of course the natural occurring B vitamins.
Anthony’s Premium Nutritional Yeast Flakes
A great budget friendly option. Most of Anthony’s products are certified organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. We love that they come in big bags, so you’ll have more than enough to test out all the delicious nooch recipes above.
If you’re looking for more ways to add nutritional yeast into your life, download our free 5 Ingredient Cookbook, that’s part of our amazing 5 day, 5 Ingredient DIY Challenge. Nutritional yeast is the perfect cheesy add in to plant-based substitutes, and we love cooking with it.
Download your 5 Ingredient Cookbook here:
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.