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What Is Nutritional Yeast? How to Use It

By , Managing Editor
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
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Time for word association. When you hear the word "yeast," what do you think of? Bread? Beer? Both of those would be right. But what about the words "savory" or "cheesy?"

These words can be used to describe a type of yeast that's become a kitchen staple for many people looking for a healthier way to add rich flavor to dishes without losing out on nutritional benefits. That type of yeast is nutritional yeast and it's time you two were introduced.

What Nutritional Yeast Is
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that can be used in cooking that's been produced specifically for this purpose. It's made by culturing a species of yeast called Saccharomyces ceresiae in a nutrient medium that's typically glucose from beets or sugarcane. After several days, the yeast is deactivated by heat then washed, dried, pasteurized and packed for distribution. The taste is described as nutty or cheesy, making it a popular cheese substitute for anyone looking to avoid dairy. The color of nutritional yeast is typically a pale to bright yellow, giving it even more resemblance to cheese. 

Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is free of sugar, dairy or gluten, making it a favorite with vegans and vegetarians as well as anyone with dietary needs involving sugar or gluten. It's also low in fat and sodium which is important for heart health and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels regulated. This yeast is also high in protein (between six and 14 g per serving), essential amino acids and vitamins to add a boost to all sorts of dishes from mashed potatoes to soup. Nutritional yeast is often fortified with vitamin B12, which is often lacking in a diet free of meat and/or animal products. Lastly, nutritional yeast is rich in fiber, which contributes to the health of the digestive system as well as the heart. 

Dr. Mehmet Oz is also a fan of nutritional yeast, praising it on "The Dr. Oz Show" for its nutritional value, which could help reduce the risk of colon cancer. 

How to Use Nutritional Yeast 
When shopping for nutritional yeast, you can find it in either flake or powder form. Using it in the kitchen is simple and there are many options. You can sprinkle the yeast on top of different foods like pizza and popcorn as a condiment for finishing off a dish or mix it into prepared foods like macaroni and cheese as a main ingredient. 

This form of yeast is typically well tolerated, even by those with sensitivity to yeast. If you have a food allergy, check with your physician before trying it, to avoid an allergic reaction.

Never thought yeast could taste good on its own? Now you know better, so get cooking with yeast!

Products you may like:

Kal Nutritional Yeast Nutty Kal Nutritional Yeast Nutty
Why you may like this product? These yeast flakes can be added to liquid beverages or to prepared foods to add nutritional value without added saturated fat and cholesterol. Three tablespoons adds just 80 calories and this product can be used as a substitute for cheese.
Twinlab Super Rich Yeast Plus  Twinlab Super Rich Yeast Plus 
Why you may like this product? Twinlab's yeast contains vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron as well as essential amino acids. Try using it as a seasoning for sauces or added to creamy dishes like macaroni and cheese.
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