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What is Nutritional Yeast

Updated on March 20, 2013

What is Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a cheesy flavored inactive yeast. As its name suggests, nutritional yeast is high in nutrition. Nutritional yeast is made from a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is a single-celled organism.

The process for making nutritional yeast involves culturing yeast from a glucose growth medium, such as beet molasses.

Because nutritional yeast is inactive, it differs from yeast used to make bread. It is also different from brewer's yeast, which is used to make beer.

Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast | Source

Nutrition of Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is excellent at providing important vitamins, such as vitamin B12. In fact, nutritional yeast is considered a dietary supplement. This is particularly good news for vegans and some vegetarians, who may have a difficult time consuming enough vitamin B12 in their diets.

In one tablespoon of nutritional yeast, you could find up to:

  • 40% of the daily value of vitamin B12
  • 140% of vitamin B6
  • 160% of vitamin B2
  • 180% of vitamin B1
  • 70% of vitamin B3
  • 40% of folic acid

Nutritional yeast is also a good source of zinc, with 6% per tablespoon. You will get 3 grams of protein per tablespoon of nutritional yeast. As if that is not enough, nutritional yeast also contains selenium, iron, and pantothenic acid. Amounts may vary by brand.

It is no wonder nutritional yeast is so popular among vegans and vegetarians!

How to Use Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and can be used in several ways.

Try sprinkling nutritional yeast over:

  • Popcorn
  • Baked potatoes
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Tacos
  • Soup
  • Salads
  • Pizza

Make a cheese flavored sauce with nutritional yeast and use it for:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • As a dipping sauce for nachos
  • Spreading over baked potatoes
  • Mixing with veggies

Other ideas:

  • Use in place of flour or corn starch to thicken sauces, while adding flavor
  • Use in batters for tempura or onion rings
  • Mix into bean dips or spinach dips to create a nice flavor

Where to Buy Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast can be found at health food stores, some large grocery stores, and online.

Because it is considered a supplement, it is sometimes sold near the vitamins and supplements. Nutritional yeast is also sometimes available in bulk foods bins, where it is generally labeled as "vegetarian support formula." Otherwise, check the grocery aisles for nutritional yeast.

There are several brands of nutritional yeast available. Some of the more popular brands include Bob's Red Mill, Red Star, and Bragg.

Nutritional yeast is available in large flakes, mini flakes, and as a powder. Flakes seem to be easier to find and are more popular among consumers. Keep in mind that flakes can easily be ground into powder.

Is it Possible to Eat Too Much Nutritional Yeast

Everything in moderation, including nutritional yeast. Okay, that may not be exactly how the quote goes, but it would make sense that way. While nutritional yeast is nutritious, some believe that it is possible to consume too much.

Due to a high amount of purines in nutritional yeast, consuming a large amount of it can result in your body creating an excessive amount of uric acid. Gall stones or gout could be the result of an excessive amount of uric acid in your body.

In general, to be safe, it is not recommended that you exceed two tablespoons a day of nutritional yeast flakes, or one heaping tablespoon a day of nutritional yeast powder.

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