May 28, 2024
Nutritional Yeast Benefits and How to Use It Dr. Axe

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast, also known as “nooch,” is a popular ingredient among vegans, vegetarians, and health-conscious individuals. It is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a type of yeast commonly used in baking and brewing. Nutritional yeast undergoes a heating and drying process that inactivates the yeast, giving it a flaky or powdery texture.

The Nutritional Profile of Nutritional Yeast

Despite its name, nutritional yeast is not the same as the traditional baking yeast. It is rich in essential nutrients, including B vitamins, protein, fiber, and minerals like zinc, selenium, and magnesium. Nutritional yeast is also a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own.

The Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

One of the main reasons why nutritional yeast is gaining popularity is its potential health benefits. Here are some of the reasons why adding nutritional yeast to your diet may be a good idea:

1. Boosts Immune System

Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of beta-glucan, a type of fiber that has been shown to enhance immune function. Beta-glucan helps activate immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which play a crucial role in defending against infections and diseases.

2. Supports Digestive Health

The fiber content in nutritional yeast promotes a healthy digestive system. It adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation, and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria help break down food, enhance nutrient absorption, and maintain overall gut health.

3. Provides Energy and Supports Weight Management

As a rich source of B vitamins, nutritional yeast plays a vital role in converting carbohydrates into glucose, the body’s primary source of energy. This process helps regulate energy levels, improve metabolism, and may contribute to weight management.

4. Enhances Mood and Mental Health

B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 found in nutritional yeast, are essential for brain health and the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters regulate mood, emotions, and overall mental well-being.

5. Supports Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails

The abundance of B vitamins, protein, and minerals in nutritional yeast can contribute to healthy hair, skin, and nails. B vitamins support the production of collagen, a protein that maintains skin elasticity and strength. Zinc and selenium promote healthy hair growth and strengthen nails.

How to Incorporate Nutritional Yeast into Your Diet

Nutritional yeast has a unique cheesy and nutty flavor, making it a versatile ingredient in various dishes. Here are some ideas on how to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:

1. Sprinkle it on Popcorn

Add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast to your freshly popped popcorn for a savory and cheesy twist. It’s a healthier alternative to traditional butter or cheese toppings.

2. Use it as a Salad Topper

Sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes over your favorite salads for added flavor and nutrition. It pairs well with leafy greens, tomatoes, and avocado.

3. Make Vegan “Cheese” Sauce

Nutritional yeast is a key ingredient in many vegan “cheese” sauce recipes. Blend it with cashews, plant-based milk, and spices for a creamy and flavorful sauce to drizzle over pasta or vegetables.

4. Mix it into Scrambled Eggs

If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative, mix nutritional yeast into your scrambled eggs for a cheesy taste. It adds a depth of flavor and a boost of nutrients.

5. Sprinkle it on Roasted Vegetables

Enhance the flavor of roasted vegetables by sprinkling nutritional yeast over them before baking. It adds a savory and umami taste to the vegetables.

Overall, nutritional yeast can be a beneficial addition to your diet. It offers a range of essential nutrients and potential health benefits. However, as with any food, moderation is key. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the right amount and frequency of consumption for your specific dietary needs.