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The Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

November 6, 2013

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Have you heard of nutritional yeast? It’s that jar of yellow flakes you may have seen in the aisle of your local health food store.

I know when I first discovered it the name alone was enough to have me running for the hills! However, this is one health food that deserves a second look. Nutritional yeast contains so much nutritional value, making it a great addition to any healthy diet and lifestyle.

Why is it so good for you?

Nutritional yeast is jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, it’s one of the best non-animal sources of folic acid and vitamin B-12.  The yellow color of the flakes is a result of their large amount of vitamin B – ½ tbsp. fulfills your entire daily vitamin B needs. In addition to B-12, nutritional yeast is high in 15 different minerals and 18 amino acids. Talk about a super food!

The yeast itself is grown on beets and dehydrated, so don’t let the word “yeast” scare you away. Since it is plant derived and dried out, it’s free of the harmful candida that can wreck havoc on your digestive system. Think of it as the kind of yeast your body will love!

Who can benefit from it?

The easy answer is vegans since nutritional yeast is such a good source of the vitamins and minerals usually found in animal meat and dairy products like cheese and milk. If you are as carnivorous as they come, I encourage you to still give nutritional yeast a try. It’s a great way to reap the benefits of meat without having to eat it everyday. Chances are your body and your wallet will thank you!

What can I use it for?

My good friend Shannon, who happens to be my healthy living guru, is notorious for her love of nutritional yeast. So her answer to this question would be – anything and everything! Nutritional yeast actually doesn’t have a really strong flavor, but it is slightly salty and reminiscent of Parmesan cheese. It packs a great punch of umami, meaning it brings all other flavors in the dish together in delicious harmony. My favorite way to use nutritional yeast is sprinkling it on popcorn for a guilt-free snack:

Nutritional Yeast Popcorn

Ingredients

  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • dash of pepper and cayenne

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the popcorn kernels, stirring until completely coated in oil.
  2. Cover the pot, and shake it every 30 seconds or so until the kernels start to pop.
  3. Once the kernels are popped, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and spices.

Where can I buy it?

Nutritional yeast used to be reserved for the aisles of local mom and pop health food stores, but it’s become more mainstream these days. I’m not promising it will be stocked at your local Safeway or Costco, but it’s likely that you will find it in the condiment aisle at Whole Foods or your local healthy grocery store equivalent.

Is nutritional yeast part of your diet? If so, what is your favorite way to eat it?