Its flavor is reminiscent of Parmesan, but it is not only a gastronomically attractive ingredient but it is also a true nutritional supplement due to its content of B vitamins, amino acids and minerals.
Nutritional yeast is a super food for its richness in nutrients. It should not be confused with brewer’s yeast: they are obtained by different processes and their taste is also different. Of course, the nutritional content is similar in both products.
The yeast from the fermentation of barley with the fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae and has a bitter taste due to the presence of compounds from hops (though can be removed and marketed as debittered yeast). If it is not an organic yeast, it may contain preservative sulfites, which cause allergic reactions in some people.
The nutritional yeast, however, occurs with the same fungus from cane or beet molasses and its taste reminiscent of nuts and Parmesan cheese or cured. In order to market them as a supplement, both yeasts are inactivated, that is, they are no longer “alive” and cannot continue to ferment.
The taste of nutritional yeast makes it attractive to vegans, who use it to cook and flavor cheese in some preparations such as sauces, salads, creams, garnishes, etc. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. For this reason it benefits the proper functioning of the body and stimulates the immune system. Some of the nutritional yeasts on the market have been fortified with vitamin B12, which is interesting for vegans, but is not considered a sufficient source of this vitamin.
WHAT IS THE NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF NUTRITIONAL YEAST?
Nutritional yeast has a high content of B vitamins (essential for the nervous system and metabolism). It is rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folates, and all of them form a complex that works in synergy and participates in the regulation of the body, especially metabolism and the nervous system. Some vitamins can be added in the fortification process. The ingredients it contains appear in the list of ingredients.
It contains the nine essential amino acids plus six of the non-essential ones. 70% of its nutritional composition is protein, but unlike other plant foods rich in protein, it is not abundant in fat or carbohydrates such as seeds, nuts or legumes.
It contains 14 minerals, and highlights include zinc, chromium and phosphorus. Zinc is essential for fertility and the immune system. Chromium enhances the action of insulin and helps regulate blood sugar. On the other hand, phosphorus, in high amounts, consumes part of the body’s calcium.
4 COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT NUTRITIONAL YEAST
1. HOW IS NUTRITIONAL YEAST PRODUCED?
Cane or beet sugar molasses is fermented with Saccharomyces cerevisiae for 7 days, then pasteurized to inactivate the yeast. Then it is cleaned and dried. Drying is done at a low temperature to preserve all the nutrients and it turns into flakes or powder. Some manufacturers enrich it with vitamin B12.
2. CAN YOU TAKE IT IF YOU HAVE YEAST INFECTION?
If you have candidiasis (an overgrowth of candida fungi on the genitals or in the intestine), the consumption of yeast is not usually recommended, but nutritional yeast is inactive thanks to the pasteurization process and does not favor the proliferation of candida.
3. HOW CAN I CONSUME IT?
It is ideal for adding a mature cheese or Parmesan flavor to vegan sauces. Also in salads and to thicken creams. And to make your vegan cheeses, made with nuts, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, herbs and nutritional yeast. It is recommended to take about two or three tablespoons a day, no more, since it is very rich in phosphorus and could unbalance the ratio with calcium.
A simple recipe to use is vegan pesto sauce. To make it, whisk the following ingredients at full power (you can give it the flavor and texture to your liking by choosing the amounts):
- Fresh basil
- Pine nuts or other dried fruit
- A minced garlic clove
- Olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- One or two tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
4. DOES IT REALLY CONTAIN VITAMIN B12?
The fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae does not synthesize this vitamin and if the yeast contains it, it is because it has been added in the fortification process. Nutritional yeast cannot be considered a sufficient source of vitamin B12 for vegans and vegetarians, which must be supplemented.