Monday, March 7, 2011

Nutritional Yeast

(c) 2011, Kathy Fannon

“What’s nutritional yeast?”

One of the handouts I give my clients is a list of condiments and spices to try. Some condiments are normal, every-day items we all recognize, but some are not. I was asked about one of those items and realized I had some work to do when I didn’t have an answer for what nutritional yeast is. I know it’s good for us and is something we can buy at the health food store, and I know it gives a cheesy flavor, but otherwise, I knew nothing.

I bought nutritional yeast at the store a couple of weeks ago and used it in my Basement Potato Soup recipe and we all loved it!

Here are a few facts I discovered:

  • Nutritional yeast is produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses, then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging the yeast.
  • Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of 18 amino acids (which make it a complete protein), dietary fiber, vitamins (including B-complex), and 15 different minerals (including selenium, chromium, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium).
  • The B-complex in nutritional yeast helps reduce stress levels, prevent pancreatic cancer and regulates metabolism.
  • It contains additional components that have potential health benefits such as improved immune response, reduction of cholesterol and anti-cancer properties.
  • It is naturally low in fat and sodium.
  • Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of Parmesan cheese.
  • It can also be used in mashed and fried potatoes, as well as putting it into scrambled tofu or eggs, or on garlic bread. Add to a stir fry or pasta sauce, salads, juice, smoothies, soups, cottage cheese or use to make sandwich spreads.

  • Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn.
  • When using it while cooking, be sure to add it at the end of cooking in order to avoid breaking down the vitamins.
  • Nutritional yeast is gluten-free.

For greatest nutritional value select non-GMO [Genetically Modified Organism] nutritional yeast that is fortified with vitamin B12.

Nutrients: Per 1 heaping tablespoon
Calories:   60
Total Fat:   1 gram
Carbohydrate:  7 grams
Fiber:  4 grams
Protein:  8 grams
Sodium:   5 milligrams
Vitamin B1 (thiamin):   640% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin):   560% DV
Vitamin B3 (niacin):   280% DV
Vitamin B6:   480% DV
Folic Acid:   60% DV
Vitamin B12:   130% DV
Selenium:   30% DV
Zinc:   20% DV

NOTE: Nutritional yeast DOES NOT contain active yeast. It is generally considered acceptable in moderate amounts for those following a diet designed to manage Candida albicans. Also, remember that there is a significant difference between brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast.