[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We are about to break down everything you need to know about nutritional yeast. Specifically, what is nutritional yeast, how does it differ from traditional types of yeast, nutritional yeast benefits, and some of the most popular ways to include it in your diet.

Yeast has been used by humans throughout history for many different purposes. From helping bread to rise during the baking process to the creation of alcoholic beverages, yeast has long been a pretty major part of our diets. Yeast doesn’t always have to be restricted to uses like these, though.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

what is nutritional yeastScientifically, all types of yeast are fungi. Although there are certain types of yeast that can be dangerous and even lethal to consume, this is not the case with nutritional yeast. As the name implies, this type of yeast is jam-packed with healthy nutrients. As this page will illustrate, there are countless benefits that can come with making this a consistent part of your diet. As an example, nutritional yeast can be used as a source of protein and many different vitamins and minerals which are necessary for your health.  

Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

This is the scientific name for the species of yeast that we use to make nutritional yeast. As we will discuss, this is also the same type of yeast that is used for various other purposes. For example, some people may instantly confuse brewer’s yeast with nutritional yeast.  This type of yeast has been used for almost all of human history. It can be used for a variety of different purposes. Today, it can be also be used to create nutritional yeast.

Similar to Yeast Used for Baking

The main difference between baker’s yeast and nutritional yeast is that nutritional yeast goes through a heating and drying process that deactivates the yeast. When deactivated, the yeast cannot be used to make bread rise during the baking process. Baking yeast, on the contrary, is normally left activated in order to help the bread rise and expand while baking. There are cases where baking yeast is purposefully deactivated to help create flatbread products.

Popular Among the Vegan & Vegetarian Community

One of the reasons that nutritional yeast has become such a popular type of food in recent times can be heavily attributed to the influence of the vegan and vegetarian community. There are many reasons that vegans and vegetarians love nutritional yeast. For starters, it is a wonderful source of protein. It also has many different healthy ingredients. As we will discuss, nutritional yeast can also be a delicious add-on to many different dishes and recipes. It offers a wide variety of uses while adding flavor to recipes. Who wouldn’t want that?

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What is the Difference Between Nutritional Yeast & Brewer’s Yeast?

what is nutritional yeastFor some people, hearing the word “yeast” makes them instantly start to think of the process of preparing alcoholic beverages. Although both of these products carry the term “yeast” in their name, both types of yeast are inactive, and are even from the same species of yeast, there are some key differences that you need to understand. Before we look at some of the top benefits and uses of nutritional yeast, let’s clear up some of the main differences between nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast.

How the Yeast is Produced and Tastes

One of the major differences between brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast is how they are produced. Brewer’s yeast is a part of the beer-making process. Accordingly, it made with grains that eventually leave it with the slightly bitter taste that beer has. Nutritional yeast, on the other hand, it made with sweeter products like sugar beets, cane sugar, or molasses. This helps leave nutritional yeast with a much sweeter taste, which is better for those who want to use yeast as a part of their recipes without negatively impacting the taste.

Nutritional Content is Slightly Different

To be clear, both of these types of yeast have similar nutritional content. One of the main differences that we know is that brewer’s yeast has chromium, whereas nutritional yeast doesn’t. Then, the exact concentrations of each of the different vitamins and ingredients in these two types of yeast can vary. Specifically, the exact number and type of B vitamins can be different. Even though both brewer’s and nutritional yeast have B vitamins, the levels can vary depending on the producer and product.

How the Yeast is Consumed

Perhaps the most obvious difference between nutritional and brewer’s yeast is how they are eventually consumed. Nutritional yeast is normally left by itself in its purest form so that you can consume it however you wish, and with whatever recipe your heart desires. Brewer’s yeast, on the other hand, is used during the fermenting process to convert ingredients into alcohol. Although there may be remnants of yeast left in the bottle, they can also die during the process. Or, the yeast can be purposefully removed after the process of fermentation.

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What Kind of Vitamins & Minerals are in Nutritional Yeast?

Surprisingly, there are a vast number of vitamins and minerals included in each serving of nutritional yeast. This is one of the reasons that it has become such a popular addition to many different dishes. The ingredients below illustrate why there are so many different potential nutritional yeast benefits.

  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B7
  • Vitamin B12

One of the ingredients that stands out the most is protein. Since protein is a nutrient that people commonly consume with meat products, this is one of the reasons that vegans and vegetarians may decide to make nutritional yeast part of their diet. Or, anybody that simply wants to diversify their protein sources. As we can see, there are also many necessary and beneficial ingredients provided by each serving of nutritional yeast that are both necessary and that can be difficult to find elsewhere, especially for those who are reducing or eliminating meat from their diets.

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Major Nutritional Yeast Benefits

There are many different vitamins and minerals included in each serving of nutritional yeast. Unless you are a nutritionist, though, it can be difficult to fully understand the implications of this without a more intensive understanding of the many vitamins and minerals that exist, and what each of them does for your body. Accordingly, here are just a few of the highlights of the many different nutritional yeast benefits. While looking through the many potential nutritional yeast benefits, consider whether or not this will be a product that works well with your personal needs and wishes.

1. Natural Energy Boost

One of the most relevant nutritional yeast benefits is that it can give you a boost of energy which doesn’t come from caffeine. Specifically, since nutritional yeast contains niacin (vitamin V3) in each serving, you can have a considerable boost of energy each time you consume nutritional yeast. As a result, many people prefer to eat nutritional yeast several hours before their normal sleeping hours. After all, an ingredient like niacin is something which is commonly extracted for use in energy drinks. Niacin causes your blood vessels to expand, allowing your blood to flow much more quickly.

2. Strengthens Your Immune System

Having a healthy immune system can positively impact your life in many different ways. This is your body’s internal defense against infectious organisms and invaders that are harmful to your health. Research has consistently demonstrated that there is a correlation between consuming nutritional yeast and having a healthier immune system. Specifically, it has a probiotic effect which positively impacts the immune system’s functionality.

3. Great for Hair, Skin, and Nail Health

what is nutritional yeastSome of the research that has come out regarding the many different nutritional yeast benefits can really be surprising when you first hear it. For example, one study has attributed the rich vitamin and mineral content that we find in nutritional yeast to positively impact the health of your hair, skin, nails, and that it could even be used consistently as a preventive for cancer. Specifically, the many different B vitamins that are found in nutritional yeast are what make nutritional yeast benefits like this possible in the first place.

4. Great Source of Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is a very important nutrient to have as part of your daily diet. That is, at least, if you are concerned about keeping your red cell production up to par. However, it can also be difficult to find sources of Vitamin B-12 if you don’t consume animal-based products. Although many different common sources of B-12 are taken from animals, those who are vegans and vegetarians can still have access to this crucial vitamin without resorting to animal-based products.

5. Both Healthy and Great-Tasting

There are many instances where nutritional food is quickly thrown into a box inside your head where you would list some of the absolute worst-tasting foods that exist. To be transparent, it would be foolish to assume that everyone in the world will like the taste of nutritional yeast. However, many of us do and you might too. Considering the vast number of health benefits that can come from nutritional yeast, the delicious cheese-like taste that it has is only an added perk.

6. Excellent Source of Protein that Isn’t Meat

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, it is important that you are still able to eat enough protein so that you don’t endanger your health. Thankfully, there are many different high-quality sources of protein which are not animal based. If you have gotten sick of the same protein sources and want to find a new option to add to your diet, then you should consider using nutritional yeast. As we will discuss, there are many different ways to include nutritional yeast in your diet. More than likely, there is a type of food that you constantly eat which can either work great with nutritional yeast, or that can be substituted.

7. Long Shelf Life & Easily Found in Affordable Bulk Sizes

When it comes to food, many of the products that we eat can spoil quickly. This is especially true when to fruits and vegetables. This is one of the main reasons that people will limit the quantity of the products that they buy; to ensure that they won’t spoil before consumption. Since nutritional yeast comes with a 1 – 2-year shelf life and is consistently found in affordable bulk sizes, those who purchase nutritional yeast will typically have it sitting around for a long time with little financial impact.

Best Dishes and Recipes to Consume Nutritional Yeast

what is nutritional yeastOne of the main nutritional yeast benefits is that it can be used in so many different types of dishes and recipes. In many instances, nutritional yeast can be used to not only boost the nutritional content of your food, but also add flavor as well. Since it has a cheese-like taste (which is actually delicious, by the way), it is can also be used to completely boost the overall flavor of many dishes. Clearly, this doesn’t mean that it will taste good with every single recipe, but here are some of the most popular ways to consume nutritional yeast.

1. With Rice, Noodles & Pasta

what is nutritional yeastJust about any sort of dish which contains noodles, rice, or pasta can be complemented with nutritional yeast really well, especially dishes which you would put parmesan cheese onto. Due to its ability to blend in really well with these dishes, and even melt into the dish, nutritional yeast is commonly used with recipes that are dominated by noodles, rice, and pasta. Many people even consider nutritional yeast to be an effective replacement for parmesan cheese.

2. Popcorn Seasoning

what is nutritional yeastOne of the most common ways that you may see people using nutritional yeast is as popcorn seasoning. Usually, people might otherwise choose to use ingredients like butter and/or salt for their popcorn seasoning. To be clear, options like these may taste a little better, but they don’t have nearly the same set of health benefits that we find in nutritional yeast. Those who consistently use something like butter as a seasoning for their popcorn will only negatively impact their health. This is why you might choose to use nutritional yeast instead.

3. In Your Favorite Soup

what is nutritional yeastSoups are a dish which already can contain many different seasonings and ingredients. This means that adding something like nutritional yeast really won’t do much to affect the flavor, especially if you’re careful not to overdo it when adding the yeast. Typically, a tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast for an average 12-ounce bowl of soup will grant you all the health benefits of this product. Best of all, there will be very little difference that you notice when it comes to the taste of your soup.

4. As a Salad Condiment

If you eat a lot of salad, one of the common aspects of your diet that you can end up missing out on is the .3protein. After all, protein is a very important part of your diet. Although you can also use ingredients like nuts, tofu, and cheese to add some protein to your salad, nutritional yeast is another ingredient which you can throw in from time to time. Just as you would with soup, be sure to add small amounts so that you don’t completely flood your salad with yeast. A tablespoon or so in each serving tends to blend well with the flavor whilst adding the many health benefits that come from consuming nutritional yeast.

5. Substitute Option for Cheese

what is nutritional yeastAs we have attempted to make clear, the taste of nutritional yeast is very similar to the pungent flavor that you experience with many types of cheese. For this reason, it is one of the absolute best substitutes that exist for cheese products. To be clear, nutritional yeast doesn’t taste anything like what you have experienced with products like bread and beer. Since the process to create nutritional yeast is a lot different than how it is used with other products, you should also expect the taste to be a lot different. In this case, it has a cheesy flavor that might work well in macaroni and cheese, on pizza, or in omelets, for example.

6. Melted Nutritional Yeast & Nachos

what is nutritional yeastDid you know that nutritional yeast can be melted? Since it also has a very similar taste to cheese, it can be used to make nacho cheese. Simply mix together a generous portion of nutritional yeast along with your favorite ingredients for nachos. This might include things like garlic, onions, peppers, and so on. Mix them all together with milk and a little bit of flour, and then you will end up with a recipe very similar to the traditional nacho cheese enjoyed by people all over the world. The main difference, though, is that this recipe will be a lot healthier.

7. On Top of Fried Tofu (or Chicken Nuggets)

what is nutritional yeastHave you ever made fried tofu? If not, simply add breading to slices of tofu and fry it until it is brown and crispy. Then, throw in a cup of your favorite sauce and you are ready to munch. Although this clearly may not be the healthiest dish, it is completely free of animal-based products. For this reason, vegetarians and vegans might choose to eat something like this instead of chicken nuggets. For an extra nutritional kick on a plate of fried tofu (or chicken nuggets), sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top of each nugget.

8. With Potato-Heavy Recipes

what is nutritional yeastRecipes which contain potatoes as their main ingredient tend to also work really well with nutritional yeast. Specifically, recipes such as fried potatoes, baked potatoes, and potato-based soups all taste really great when there is some nutritional yeast involved. Imagine biting into a baked potato with some melted nutritional yeast included as a substitute, or even with things like sour cream, salt, pepper, butter, and so on. Or, as a light seasoning with some French fries. You may decide to quickly make nutritional yeast a part of each of your recipes which have potatoes as the main ingredient.

9. With Scrambled Eggs

what is nutritional yeastEggs are another type of food which are consistently paired with nutritional yeast. After all, eggs can really taste good when you add cheese to them, which is what makes nutritional yeast a great add-on to either substitute or go along with some cheese. You should still throw on your other favorite condiments, like salt and pepper. Although scrambled eggs are one of the best egg recipes to use along with nutritional yeast, other common forms or preparation are just as suitable with nutritional yeast. It will be a much more affordable way to add a cheese-like flavor without actually using cheese.

10. Bean Dip & Baked Beans

Beans are another great type of food to pair along with nutritional yeast. Specifically, baked bean recipes and any sort of bean dip. When you sprinkle a light amount of nutritional yeast into recipes like this, you don’t really do much to affect the flavor. However, you do end up boosting the nutritional content of the dish. Baked beans also tend to taste delicious with the flavor of nutritional yeast, which makes it possible to add generous portions to recipes like this without worrying about a negative impact.  

Risks and Common Problems with Nutritional Yeast

Not everybody will be able to consume nutritional yeast. Although we have done our best to illustrate the various nutritional yeast benefits and uses, it’s important that anybody who is new to this product understand the potential risks of consuming nutritional yeast. Right off the bat, you should know that most people will be able to use nutritional yeast as a consistent part of their diet with no potential risks or problems. As we will demonstrate, though, there are certain people and circumstances where consuming nutritional yeast is not a good idea at all.

Yeast Allergies

This can be one of the most frustrating allergies that you can have. If you have a yeast allergy, even healthy drinks like kombucha can be dangerous for you to consume. Usually, people who have yeast allergies will figure this out pretty quickly. After all, most types of bread, cereal, alcohol, and many other commonly consumed products contain yeast. Unfortunately, those who have yeast allergies should completely avoid nutritional yeast, and all other types of yeast, unless specifically instructed otherwise by your doctor.

Diabetics Should Consult a Doctor

As any diabetic knows, keeping up with your current blood sugar levels is a necessity of life. To be clear, most diabetics should be able to consume nutritional yeast without worrying much. It’s important to note that the chromium included in nutritional yeast can be both beneficial and potentially harmful for your blood sugar levels. In fact, this is a topic which still could use some more study and research. For this reason, a diabetic should consult with their doctor to determine the optimum dosage of nutritional yeast (if any) that you can include in your diet.

Sometimes Mixed with GMOs & MSG

Many health-conscious people choose to avoid products which contain GMOs and/or MSG for a variety of potential reasons. Whatever your personal reasons may be for avoiding ingredients like these, it’s important to note that some (but not all) nutritional yeast products have these traits.

For this reason, those who don’t wish to consume ingredients like this should check the ingredient labels and manufacturer information before deciding where to purchase their nutritional yeast. If you want to start eating nutritional yeast for health benefits, but also have cut things like GMOs and MSG out of your diet because of potential health risks, then there is no sense in eating nutritional yeast with ingredients like these.

Can Sometimes Include Gluten

If you suffer from Crohn’s Disease, you are well aware of the risks of consuming products which contain gluten. Although there are many instances in which nutritional yeast manufacturers purposefully avoid using gluten in their products to meet the demands of their target customers, there are also instances where nutritional yeast products can contain gluten. As a result, those who are concerned with eating gluten and those who have Crohn’s Disease should double check the ingredients that each manufacturer uses before accidentally purchasing nutritional yeast that contains gluten.

What is Nutritional Yeast? Major Points & Summary

Nutritional yeast is from the same species of yeast that we commonly use during the beer-brewing process, or for baking bread. Since nutritional yeast is a product jam-packed with many different vitamins and minerals, there are many different potential benefits that can occur when this is added into your diet.

It has a cheese-like flavor which can be easily added to many different dishes. Since there is a generous serving of protein in each nutritional yeast serving, it has also become a popular product for those who are vegans or vegetarians. Due to the many different potential uses and benefits that nutritional yeast has, it is a great product to consider adding into your diet. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

March 8, 2019