Nutritional Yeast: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Explore the health benefits, uses, and history of nutritional yeast, a nutrient-rich superfood and popular vegan cheese substitute, in our ultimate guide.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast, specifically Saccharomyces cerevisiae, that is grown on a sugar-rich medium like molasses. It is then harvested, washed, and dried, resulting in a flaky, yellowish powder. Nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy taste, making it a popular choice for vegans and health enthusiasts alike as a cheese substitute or flavor enhancer.

Is Nutritional Yeast Healthy?

Yes, nutritional yeast is a powerhouse of nutrients, including B vitamins, protein, and dietary fiber. It is low in fat and carbohydrates, making it a healthy addition to various dishes for those looking to boost their nutrient intake without adding unnecessary calories.

6 Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

  1. Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, which are essential for energy production, metabolism, and brain function.
  2. The beta-glucans found in nutritional yeast have been shown to support immune system function and reduce inflammation.
  3. The dietary fiber in nutritional yeast promotes regularity and aids in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
  4. Some studies suggest that consuming nutritional yeast may help lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol levels.
  5. Nutritional yeast adds a savory, umami taste to dishes, making it a great flavor enhancer for various recipes.
  6. As a plant-based source of protein and B12, nutritional yeast can be an essential ingredient for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

History and Background of Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has been around for decades, but it gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s as a health food staple. It has since become a go-to ingredient for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those seeking to add extra nutrients and flavor to their meals.

What is the Best Way to Store Nutritional Yeast?

To preserve the freshness and quality of nutritional yeast, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Avoid exposing it to heat or moisture, as this can affect its taste and nutritional value.

What are the Different Types of Nutritional Yeast?

There are two main types of nutritional yeast: fortified and unfortified. Fortified nutritional yeast contains added vitamins and minerals, while unfortified is a more natural product without any additional nutrients. Both types offer health benefits, but fortified nutritional yeast is often preferred for its higher levels of B12.

What is the Best Substitute for Nutritional Yeast if I Don't Have It?

If you're out of nutritional yeast, you can try substituting it with soy sauce, miso paste, or Parmesan cheese, depending on the recipe and your dietary preferences.

What Cuisines Use Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a versatile ingredient that can be found in various cuisines, including vegan, vegetarian, and health-conscious dishes.

Can Nutritional Yeast Go Bad?

Yes, nutritional yeast can lose its potency and flavor over time. To ensure its freshness, check the expiration date on the package and store it properly.

What is Nutritional Yeast Used For?

Nutritional yeast is commonly used as a cheese substitute, flavor enhancer, or nutrient booster in dishes like pasta, soups, salads, and popcorn. It is particularly popular when someone is trying to swap out ingredients to make a recipe vegan.

Why is Nutritional Yeast Good for You?

Nutritional yeast is good for you because it is a rich source of essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, protein, and fiber, that support overall health and well-being.

Why is Nutritional Yeast a Popular Substitute for Parmesan Cheese?

Nutritional yeast is a popular substitute for Parmesan cheese, particularly among those following a vegan or dairy-free diet. There are a few reasons why nutritional yeast is commonly used as a substitute:

  1. Cheesy Flavor: Nutritional yeast has a naturally cheesy and nutty flavor that resembles the taste of Parmesan cheese. This makes it a suitable option to add a savory, umami taste to dishes.

  2. Vegan and Dairy-Free: Nutritional yeast is entirely plant-based, making it an ideal choice for individuals who avoid dairy products or follow a vegan lifestyle. It offers a way to incorporate a cheese-like flavor into dishes without using animal-derived ingredients.

  3. Nutritional Benefits: Nutritional yeast is a rich source of various nutrients, including B vitamins, protein, and minerals like zinc and selenium. It is often fortified with additional nutrients, making it a beneficial addition to vegan or plant-based diets.

  4. Easy to Use: Nutritional yeast is typically available in a powdered or flaked form, making it convenient to sprinkle or mix into dishes. It can be used as a topping for pasta, salads, popcorn, or incorporated into sauces, dressings, or dips.

  5. Low in Fat and Calories: Nutritional yeast is relatively low in fat and calories compared to Parmesan cheese. It offers a lighter option for those seeking to reduce their fat or calorie intake while still adding a flavorful element to their meals.

Nutritional Facts
1 tsp
Amount per serving
1.2 g
0 g
1.8 g
Saturated Fat
0 g
6 mg
0.6 g
0 g