Essential Guide to Nutritional Yeast

Your essential guide to nutritional yeast – The Rising Star of Vegan Cooking .

When it comes to yeast, we’ve come to know it as a catalyst or rising agent for food – it’s the power behind fluffy, freshly baked bread, and one of the four key ingredients of beer brewing (so really, we have a lot to thank yeast for!) But have you ever considered its nutritional value?
More and more often, we’re stumbling across recipes starring one key ingredient: nutritional yeast; affectionately known as ‘nooch’ by the vegan community. This fascinating concept is a form of deactivated yeast – often a strain of unicellular fungus, Saccharomyces Cerevisae – and is available in powder, granule and flake forms. The dried nutritional yeast hugely differs from baking and beer yeasts. Unlike these active forms, nutritional yeast cannot ferment, but what it can offer is an intense flavour, akin to that of a strong cheese.

The Two Types :
Unfortified

The unfortified version of nutritional yeast does not contain any added vitamins or minerals, only those which are naturally produced by the yeast cells
during growth.

Fortified

Opposite to the unfortified version, fortified nutritional yeast includes synthetic vitamins, which have been added during the harvesting and drying process to boost the nutritional content of the yeast.
Of course, it’s great to think you’re getting additional vitamins, but it’s key to thoroughly scour the ingredients of fortified nutritional yeast, in order to ensure you’re happy with the additional elements. Some people prefer to opt for the unfortified version, as the yeast itself is naturally rich in vitamins.

Nutritional Benefits

Naturally low in calories and sodium, as well as being fat and gluten-free, this vegan-friendly ingredient is a great way to add a quick boost of vitamins and flavour to any dish. Both fortified and unfortified yeast is rich in B vitamins, though, when it comes to the all-important B12, only fortified nutritional yeast will provide it.
Vitamin B12 is made by micro-organisms and is not usually found in plants, meaning the B12 has to be supplemented into the yeast. B12 is a key element of any vegan diet – it is essential for proper red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis, while deficiency can cause anaemia and damage of the nervous system. The average recommended daily intake of B12 for adults is 2.4mg. Per serving, some of the popular brands of fortified nutritional yeast provides 2.2mg of B12 (practically your
entire RDA!)

How to use nutritional yeast

Thanks to its punchy, nutty and cheesy notes, nutritional yeast is a great addition to many dishes. Not only will it increase the nutrient levels of a recipe, but will also ensure it is packed full of flavour. Sprinkle it onto a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, over a bowl of freshly popped popcorn or use it to flavour homemade vegetable crisps.

As well as a topping, nutritional yeast works great in sauces (especially pasta sauces); as a flavouring for vegan cheese scones and even to give a little ‘bite’ to a simple basil pesto. Just be sure to remember the distinction between nutritional yeast and active yeast – as, though tasty, nutritional yeast will not help your home baked bread rise!

Where it comes from

Nutritional yeast, like all yeast, is a member of the fungus family. It is made by culturing a yeast in a nutrient medium for several days; the primary ingredient is glucose, which is often sought from either sugarcane or beet molasses. When the yeast is ready it is harvested, washed and then deactivated using a careful heat treatment. For fortified yeast, the additional vitamins and nutrients are added during this process, following the harvesting. The nutritional yeast is then packed in a flake, granule or powder form.

Other Nutritional Benefits
  • Nutritional yeast contains all nine of the amino acids, which form proteins in our body to support our mental health, metabolism and blood glucose levels.
  • Packed full of fibre, some nutritional yeasts contain around 4g of fibre in just 2 tablespoons.
  • Nutritional yeast doesn’t require
    any additional sugar to make it taste great, and it’s also conveniently low in carbohydrates.
  • Beta glucan 1-3 is another nutritional benefit of nutritional yeast. Beta-glucans have been shown to stimulate your immune system and strengthen it against bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections.

Find more details in our glossary.

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