Why you should add nutritional yeast to your diet right now

Nutritional yeast, often called “nooch,” is a form of inactive yeast known to have a wide range of health benefits. This dairy-free, vegan-friendly product has what some say is a cheesy taste, and is specifically grown to be a food additive.

While many people use it to season their food with its distinctive, nutty flavor adding depth to many dishes, it’s not just a seasoning. Let’s dig into the benefits of nutritional yeast and some drawbacks. We’ll also provide a couple of recipes to get you started.

a bowl of nutritional yeast on a wooden table

What kinds of nutritional yeast are there?

You can find two types in the grocery store.

  • Unfortified: This type of nutritional yeast is less nutritious. It only contains vitamins and minerals naturally found in nutritional yeast.
  • Fortified: Manufacturers of nutritional yeast add vitamins to fortify it and boost its health benefits.

What are the health benefits of nutritional yeast?

Though you can usually find nutritional yeast in the spice section of your grocery store, it has some pretty hefty health benefits.

It’s protein-packed

Vegan eaters may struggle to get enough protein, which is essential to build muscle and repair tissue. One 15-gram serving of nutritional yeast helps fill this gap for vegans because it has all nine essential amino acids, qualifying it as a complete protein.

It has fiber

Fiber keeps the digestive system functioning and helps you feel fuller longer, decreasing your desire to eat when you aren’t hungry. One serving of nutritional yeast has about three to four grams of fiber.

It boasts B vitamins

B vitamins affect your energy levels and transport nutrients throughout the body. Fortified nutritional yeast is full of B-vitamins, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and folate (B9). It is also a rare vegan-friendly source of vitamins B6 and B12.

It contains many other vitamins and minerals

Other vitamins and minerals many fortified nutritional yeasts contain include:

  • Iron is essential for creating hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps oxygen get to other parts of the body, such as muscles.
  • Potassium, which regulates the heartbeat.
  • Zinc, which builds proteins and promotes tissue healing.

popcorn, kernels, and nutritional yeast

What should I keep in mind when purchasing nutritional yeast?

Though nutritional yeast has its following in the dairy-free and vegan communities, it’s not for everyone. You’ll want to consider a few factors when purchasing nutritional yeast.

  • Some people are allergic. Nutritional yeast does not contain dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts, or corn, but some people may be allergic. Always check the ingredient label before trying a new food if you have known allergies.
  • Fortified contains more minerals and vitamins. Not all nutritional yeasts have the same vitamins. Check the ingredients list to ensure the vitamins and minerals you are hoping for are in the product. You’ll want to use fortified nutritional yeast if you are going to get vitamin B12.
  • You may not like the taste. Though some people swear by the taste of nutritional yeast, it doesn’t suit everyone’s palette.

Recipes using nutritional yeast

If you want to try nutritional yeast, these recipes are delicious ways to get started.

Tofu Scramble with Nutritional Yeast

This vegan-friendly breakfast recipe from Spruce Eats is a protein powerhouse that will have you feeling stronger and fuller to start your day.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 block tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp oil or margarine
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast

Instructions

Press the tofu into a plate, slice it into one-inch cubes, and crumble it. Pour oil or put a slice of margarine in a frying pan and heat. Sauté the chopped onion, tofu, and pepper for 3-5 minutes on high heat. Stir regularly. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic and onion powders and soy sauce. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly. Add more oil as needed. Add the nutritional yeast. Stir thoroughly to coat the tofu well.

Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast and Aleppo Pepper

Make home movie night a little more delicious with this Bon Appétit recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Enough popcorn kernels to yield 8 cups of popcorn
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A spice mill or a mortar and pestle

Pop the popcorn. Meanwhile, use the spice mill or mortar and pestle to grind the nutritional yeast, Aleppo pepper, and salt until it’s fine. Remove the popcorn from the microwave, and pour it onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle oil over the popcorn, and toss to coat. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast mixture and toss again to coat. Add more of the nutritional yeast as desired.

Nutritional yeast is a vegan-friendly replacement for cheese that contains several vitamins and minerals. Fortified nutritional yeast boasts B vitamins not typically found in most vegan foods. It’s also a complete source of protein, so it can help build muscles and repair tissues. There are two types of nutritional yeast. Fortified is the most common and nutritious. Unfortified is less common and doesn’t contain any added vitamins or minerals. If you have known food allergies, you’ll want to speak with a healthcare provider before using nutritional yeast. Otherwise, it may be worth giving it a try.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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