Nutritional Yeast - Is it Good for You?

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What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a popular food ingredient used in vegan cooking. It is called "nutritional" yeast because it contains significant amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in it.

Since the early times, yeast has been used for baking and brewing. Nutritional yeast is same as the yeast and it belongs to a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, which is yellow in color and has a nutty cheesy flavor. Its flavor is similar to cheese, hence it is added to various vegan food preparations to enhance the overall flavor. Besides being a flavoring agent, studies have reported several beneficial effects of S. cerevisiae on human health and well-being.

How is Nutritional Yeast Made?

S. cerevisiae grows on molasses, which is a sugar-rich medium. They are then harvested, washed and dried and deactivated with heat. Once deactivated, they lose their leavening ability. This makes them different from the yeasts used in the process of fermentation. Nutritional yeast is sold in the market in the form of granules, flakes and powder.

How Nutritious is Nutritional Yeast?

Two tablespoons or 16 grams of nutritional yeast contains approximately 45 calories, out of which, the majority of calories come from protein. Therefore, vegans can easily enhance their overall protein content of a meal by adding nutritional yeast.

Carbohydrate present in nutritional yeast is majorly in the form of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber controls high blood cholesterol level, aids weight loss and improves overall gut health. Besides this, nutritional yeast is a low-fat source.

It is a great source of B-complex vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B9 and vitamin B12. It is also a good source of trace minerals like zinc, manganese, copper and magnesium.

References:

  1. Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) protein concentrate: preparation, chemical composition, and nutritional and functional properties. - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15884819/)
  2. Beneficial Effects of Probiotic and Food Borne Yeasts on Human Health - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257658/)
  3. Brewer's Yeast Supplementation Enhances Immune Response of Aged Mice. - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28502146/)
  4. Metabolic vitamin B12 status on a mostly raw vegan diet with follow-up using tablets, nutritional yeast, or probiotic supplements. - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11146329/)
  5. Effects of yeast-derived beta-glucans on blood cholesterol and macrophage functionality. - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19519160)
  6. Selenium yeast. - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3521441)
  7. Metabolic vitamin B12 status on a mostly raw vegan diet with follow-up using tablets, nutritional yeast, or probiotic supplements. - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11146329)
  8. Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to maintain the body’s defence against pathogens: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric study in healthy subjects - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832763/)

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