Nutritional yeast is a staple food item for anyone following a vegan diet. It is made from the same species of yeast as Brewer’s yeast, but the final product is very different. The flaky texture and the cheesy, savoury taste make it a great flavour enhancer for many popular dishes.
In particular, you can use it to replace cheese in pasta or vegan sauces, or you can use it as a thickener for soups, risottos or stews. This product, as the name suggests, is also an excellent source of nutrients in the vegan diet. Curious? Then read on for Nutritional Yeast (Nooch): Top 5 Health Benefits You Should Know!
1. Source of B Vitamins
Fortified nutritional yeast is a valuable source of B vitamins. Specifically, a 5g serving provides 0.7mg of thiamin (B1), 2.8mg of riboflavin (B2), 13.3mg of niacin (B3), 5mg of pantothenic acid (B5), 1.2mg of pyridoxine (B6) and 5.4mg of cyanocobalamin (B12).
A particular emphasis should be placed on this yeast as a dietary source of vitamin B12 within the vegan diet, since vegans are otherwise at high risk of deficiency.
2. Antioxidant Rich
Antioxidants are responsible for protecting the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals. It’s therefore important that we consume antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, as they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Nutritional yeast contains two important antioxidants called glutathione and selenomethionine, and by adding just two teaspoons to your food daily will stimulate numerous protective effects within the body.
3. 50% of Your Vitamin D (RDA)
Vitamin D is essential for the maintenance of healthy bones. A 5g serving of nutritional yeast will provide 5μg of vitamin D, or 200 IU. That’s half-way to meeting the reference nutrient intake, or your daily requirement.
4. Source of Protein
Although there are numerous higher protein vegan food sources, the addition of nutritional yeast to foods can still be used to boost the protein content, providing 2.5g of protein per 5g serving. Furthermore, it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all the 9 essential amino acids your body requires.
5. Rich in Trace Minerals
Nutritional yeast also contains certain trace minerals, namely zinc and selenium. Zinc plays an important role in immune function, while selenium is used in the formation of antioxidant enzymes. Regular consumption of nutritional yeast will therefore contribute to adequate intakes of trace minerals in your diet.
Nutritional yeast is available to buy in most supermarkets along the herbs and spices aisles. If you haven’t already, it’s definitely worth getting your hands on a jar of this highly nutritious food product. As well as enhancing the flavour of all your favourite dishes, it will add extra protein, vitamins, and minerals to your diet. Just imagine an extra cheesy mac ‘n’ cheese or a super savoury tofu scramble!