What is nutritional yeast?
Have you ever heard of nutritional yeast? What is so magical about this amazing food? Also termed by numerous doctors and nutritionists as a super food, nutritional yeast benefits stem from the fact that it is a rich source of vitamins, proteins and a number of trace elements. It has a light cheesy flavor, and can be sprinkled on foods such as eggs or added to gravies for enhanced flavor, too.
Nutritional yeast is the deactivated form of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is called the “vegetarians’ proteins” as it is a rich source of protein while still containing a number of other nutrients. Nutritional yeast is grown on cane sugar and molasses. It is then harvested, washed, dried and sold either in the form of flakes or powder. The color of nutritional yeast may range from yellow to brown depending upon the manufacturer. The various nutritional yeast benefits have made this nutritional supplement a popular choice for many, especially amongst vegetarians. The earliest recorded use was in 1550 BC in Egypt. But it is only during the last few decades that the outstanding health benefits of nutritional yeast have been researched.
Nutritional Yeast Benefits
With 18 amino acids, nutritional yeast is a complete protein. It is up to 55% high quality protein. In addition, it has 15 minerals in it. For vegetarians and those who are on a low cholesterol diet, nutritional yeast is a great substitute for meat, dairy products or other sources of proteins that are also rich in fats.
The term “yeast” has received a bad reputation in the last few decades because of its ties with infections, but this is not so with nutritional yeast. There are various types of yeast. Some are good, and others are harmful. The yeast, like fungus, that is mainly mentioned in as ‘yeast connection’ is Candida albicans. Primarily grown yeast, (which is different from brewer’s yeast) is grown on a mixture of molasses and cane sugar. It undergoes pasteurization in the final stages. Hence, it is guaranteed to be free from the notorious Candida albicans. It is also a gluten free product.
One of the important health benefits of nutritional yeast is that it is a rich source of vitamin B complex, that helps in managing stress levels, maintains a good metabolic rate, prevents cancer of the pancreas and ensures a healthy skin. In fact vitamin B12 which is deficient in most vegetarian foods, is also added in certain varieties of nutritional yeast. This vitamin is produced separately from bacteria and then added to nutritional yeast to increase its health benefits.
Nutritional yeast consists of a trace mineral – chromium, which is known as Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). It is beneficial for dealing with diabetes, low blood pressure and fluctuating blood sugar levels. Other elements that nutritional yeast is rich in are manganese, copper, vanadium, molybdenum and lithium.
Other health benefits of nutritional yeast include:
•It maintains ideal intestinal ecology.
•It improves blood production.
•It helps in maintaining optimum cholesterol levels.
•It improves liver health and function.
How to Include Nutritional Yeast in Your Diet
Besides the health benefits of nutritional yeast flakes or powder, it is the nutty and cheese like flavor that also has a role to play in popularizing this supplement. It is favored by many as a cheese substitute. Here are some ways in which nutritional yeast can be included in the diet:
•Use it as a topping for popcorn, instead of butter and salt.
•Put in on your scrambled eggs.
•Use nutritional yeast for its cheesy flavor in pizzas, pastas and casseroles.
•Add to soup to give it a creamy taste without adding milk.
•Use it with fried or mashed potatoes.
•Can be used with gravies and sauces.
•Mix it with vinegar and oil and use as salad dressing.
•Mix 1 tablespoon with every 2 cups of vegetable mixture for burgers.
•Add 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast to each cup of flour while making baked foods.
What is best about nutritional yeast benefits is that it is a tasty way of staying healthy. Just by sprinkling a few flakes in soup or in breakfast cereal, food will be fortified with proteins, vitamins and minerals. Naturally low in fat, sodium and high in protein, people who consume animal products have less to worry about when considering their protein intake. Vegetarians and vegans might need additional protein supplementation, though. Protein can be found in plant-based sources like lentils, soybeans, nuts, beans and quinoa. People who follow a plant-based diet or those looking to reduce their intake of animal base products can receive additional protein by adding nutritional yeast to their meals. One ounce of nutritional yeast contains 14 grams of protein and 79 calories. Nutritional yeast is a fabulous alternative to animal-based protein.
Resources: bestnaturalfoods.com, vegetarian.com