What in the World is Nutritional Yeast?

Have you heard of nutritional yeast? It’s an inactive yeast, grown specifically for eating. It’s from the same species as baker’s yeast; however, during processing it is inactivated. This yeast is specifically made to be consumed.

Why would someone consume nutritional yeast? 

One of the reasons is in the name, it’s nutrititious. Nutritional yeast can be purchased in fortified or unfortified versions, however, more commonly you’ll see the fortified version. While, nutritional yeast does have B vitamins naturally, more are added during fortification. Other vitamins are also added to the fortified version, making it more nutrient dense. Nutritional yeast also has trace minerals and antioxidants. “It is a complete protein,” containing “all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food.”

It’s often seen in vegan cooking, because of the added B vitamins, to make up for not eating eggs, meat, and dairy. But, not only can it help vegans, vegetarians, and others boost their Bs, it has also been said to have some other health benefits. Nutritional yeast may help in improving immunity and reducing cholesterol.

Another reason people eat it is simply because they like the taste of it. For those avoiding dairy, it is used a cheese substitute.

What does it taste like and how do you use it?

Nutritional yeast is a great alternative to Parmesan cheese, because it is cheesy and nutty in flavor. It’s a great option when you want to supplement a cheesy flavor in your dishes. It can be purchased in a flake or powder form. You can add it to a variety of dishes.

Top salads, stir fries, pastas, or steamed veggies with it. Add it to your soup or dust your popcorn with it. You can also use it in sauces.

Where do you buy it?

The chain grocery store near you may or may not sell it. If so, they’ll probably have it close to where they sell other vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free foods. Stores like Whole Foods and Wegmans will most likely have it available. Health stores and natural food stores may also have it available for purchase.

You’re looking for a yellow powder or yellow flakes. Make sure you don’t accidentally pick up baker’s yeast. You want the container to say nutritional yeast, and if you prefer added vitamins, choose the fortified version. Check the “nutritional facts” list to see the vitamin content.

Nutritional yeast is often advertised more towards vegans. However, it could be beneficial for others, for example, people who are looking to go dairy-free, those wanting to boost their B vitamins, or someone who is looking for a salt-free seasoning. If you want to give it a try, there are plenty of recipe ideas online or you can start simple, top off your steamed veggies, salads, soups, and pastas with it and enjoy.



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