What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast flakes are made from ‘non-live’ powdered yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which when ‘alive’ is used to make beer and bread. We know it sounds pretty unappealing at the moment, so stick with us!
You can choose from unfortified and fortified nutritional yeast:
- Unfortified nutritional yeast: contains naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals produced by the yeast cells while they grow.
- Fortified nutritional yeast: contains the above + synthetic vitamins added to boost its nutritional value. This is the type you’re most likely to see in shops – more vitamins, why not?
It is commonly used in vegetarian and vegan cooking to provide a rare non-animal form of vitamin B12 as well as a ‘umami’ and slightly cheesy and nutty taste.
From sprinkling it on your beans on toast and dusting it on fresh popcorn, to cooking up a vegan ‘cheesy’ sauce for pasta, nutritional yeast is super versatile as well as good for you. Keep reading for even more reasons to keep a tub in your kitchen cupboard.
Nutritional yeast nutrition
Per average 5g serving, fortified nutritional yeast provides:
- Fortified nutritional yeast calories: 17kcal
- Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 1.9g
- Of which sugars: 0.6g
- Fibre: 1.1g
- Protein: 2.6g
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 2.3mg
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 0.9mg
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 17.1mg
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 7.0mg
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 1.7mg
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): 9.8mcg
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid): 220mcg
- Vitamin B12: 2.2.mcg
- Iron: 0.3mg
- Zinc: 6.0mg
What are the health benefits of nutritional yeast?
Is nutritional yeast healthy? It is indeed! Here are some of the best nutritional yeast benefits.
Full of B vitamins
Unfortified nutritional yeast products contain a modest amount of B vitamins, as they form naturally while the yeast grows, and the fortified varieties contain even more. One tablespoon of the fortified flakes contains 30-180% of the recommended daily intake of B vitamins – pretty impressive, eh!
B vitamins are important for our overall health. They can help us feel more focussed, less tired and fatigued, support the formation of red blood cells and even help our hair and nails grow strong and healthy.
Helps prevent vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans
When you follow a vegan diet, you are naturally more prone to vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because animal products like meat and dairy are the main source of vitamin B12 for many, due to the animals being supplemented with it while they are alive.
No need to worry too much if you’re shunning meat and dairy though, sprinkling just 5g of fortified nutritional yeast into your daily life provides you with the daily recommended amount for adults. Easy!
A complete protein
Surprisingly, nutritional yeast is an excellent source of plant-based protein. Not only that, it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot create, and we have to source from food, just like meat, fish, dairy and soy.
A mere 5g contains 2.6g of protein, so it’s a great vegan-friendly way to boost the protein content of any meal – all with a healthy serving of vitamins and minerals, it’s a no-brainer!
Contains trace minerals
Nooch contains selenium, zinc, manganese and molybdenum. These trace minerals are involved in all sorts of bodily processes, like immunity, metabolism, growth and regulating our genes.
Nutritional yeast contains several potent antioxidants, including glutathione and selenomethionine, which can help protect the cells in your body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
May help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels
Beta-glucan has been proven to lower cholesterol levels, and you can find it in nutritional yeast.
What can you use nutritional yeast for?
Nutritional yeast uses know no limits! Here are few of our favourite ways how to use nutritional yeast:
- Sprinkle it over pasta, toast, popcorn, salads, or any other food you would usually grate cheese over
- Stir it into soups, sauces, scrambles and stews for a unique umami, cheesy and nutty flavour, vegan white sauce anyone?
- Sub it for your usual parmesan in pesto, pizza and ‘cheesy’ broccoli and cauliflower dishes
Nutritional yeast recipes
Inspired and want to start experimenting with nutritional yeast flakes, here are a few recipes to get you started:
- Vegan Caesar Salad with Kale & Avocado
- Easy DIY Vegan Cheese Spread
- Vegan Fry-up
- Vegan Huevos Rancheros
- Green Veggie Frittata
- Vegan ‘Meatball’ Subs
- Broccoli, Spinach & Wheatgrass Soup
- Meat-free Pepperoni Pizza
- Mushroom & Pea Risotto
- Cheesy Spinach Pasta
Is nutritional yeast gluten free?
Yes, most nutritional yeast is gluten free, like Engevita Yeast Flakes but you must check the label of other brands before you buy to make sure.
Last updated: 14 September 2020