What is Nutritional Yeast and Why It’s So Important for Vegetarians and Vegans

 

Don’t be fooled by the name – nutritional yeast is not your average yeast. It is an inactive yeast, therefore it does not make bread rise. What it does do, however, is provide several important health benefits, as well as a cheese-like flavor boost to your dishes.

Nutritional yeast is usually grown on beet sugar, though it is sometimes grown on molasses as well, and then fermented and dried. It is a gluten-free food, and does not contain the Candida albicans strain of yeast, so it does not promote candida growth in the body.

This yeast is very high in protein – 2 tablespoons contain 9 grams. This is more protein than is found in a one ounce serving of beef. It is also high in fiber, which is essential for proper digestion and a healthy gut environment. Fiber also stabilizes blood sugar levels, which can keep your energy levels optimal throughout the course of the day.

Another benefit of nutritional yeast is the high vitamin B12 content. Just one tablespoon provides an adult the full amount of B12 needed in a day. This is especially beneficial for vegans and vegetarians, as most B12 comes from animal sources. Vitamin B12 aids the body in its production of myelin, the insulation that coats the nerves. It is also vital for producing red blood cells.

Nutritional yeast also contains folic acid, which is important to the overall health of cells. It is especially necessary for pregnant women, as it has been shown to prevent birth defects. On top of that, nutritional yeast contains a number of other minerals, including chromium, iron, selenium and zinc.

Often used in vegan recipes as a cheese substitute, nutritional yeast has a flavor which resembles cheese, and also has a nutty characteristic. Some people love it right away, and for others it is an acquired taste. Many people that are unsure about it at first, however, report enjoying it after a few tries.

To use nutritional yeast, simply sprinkle it onto dishes where you would normally add cheese, such as on top of vegetables, casseroles, rice dishes or millet. It can be eaten on raw dishes or cooked ones. Whether you are looking to avoid dairy or just seeking a nutritious addition to your meals, give it a try!

Sources:

http://www.thealternativedaily.com
http://happyherbivore.com/2011/08/what-is-nutritional-yeast/
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7360/5-reasons-why-im-obsessed-with-nutritional-yeast.html
http://www.justgoodenergy.com/2010/06/14/the-health-benefits-of-nutritional-yeast/