Nutritional Yeast – The SuperfoodApril 04, 2018
Nooch or nutritional yeast definitely deserves a supefood status. The term yeast can be quite unappetizing! But don’t let the name fool you! This cheesy, nutty, flaky, superfood is definitely worth its weight in gold (dust)!
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast made from a single celled organism known as “Saccharomyces Cerevisiae”. It is cultured and grown on a glucose medium like sugarcane or molasses. Once the yeast is fully grown, it is killed or “deactivated” with heat, dried and processed. It is light or golden yellow in colour and is popularly found in the form of flakes or powder and its taste is similar to sharp cheddar cheese or powdered parmesan cheese. Since the yeast is grown on sugary foods lacking some vital nutrients, the yeast produces vitamins and amino acids through bio chemical reactions. Due to this, it is rich in proteins, amino acids, B vitamins and fiber.
This is the final step of the process. At this point, the fortified yeast is dried and sized into flakes, powder or granules.
Since it contains adequate quantities of nutrients even in small volumes, it is regarded as a “super food”. Since it contains the flavour and taste of cheese, it is a popular food ingredient among vegans, and people with lactose intolerance.
As mentioned earlier, nutritional yeast is very rich in many vital nutrients. When it’s not fortified, it contains small amount of vitamin B12 – the most common deficiency observed in vegans, vegetarians and even urban meat eaters! Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia, fatigue and depression while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B12 supports and performs 7 vital functions of the human body. While the B12 found in non-fortified nutritional yeast may not be sufficient to provide your minimum requirement, it is a great naturally occurring source of the same. It is highly advised that you get your B12 checked and supplement your diet accordingly.
Let’s look at the other goodies in Nooch!
Amino acids are literally the building blocks of our body. They form protein in our body which is crucial for almost every single aspect of our mental health and metabolism. Amino acids also help in regulating blood glucose levels. Nutritional yeast is not only just a rich source of amino acids but also a complete protein source. About two teaspoons (10gm) of nutritional yeast contain whooping 4.5 grams of protein. Also, it is one of the lowest calorie sources of protein as 2 teaspoons (10gm) of nooch contain only 39.7 calories.
Fibre is another vital nutrient needed for our body. It performs the important function of slowing down the absorption of natural sugars from our food into our blood stream. It also removes harmful fats, cholesterols and toxins from our blood stream, thereby protecting our hearts Nooch is an excellent source of fibre and contains 1.4 grams per two teaspoons (10 grams), which is much higher compared to that of oatmeal, broccoli and kale. Oatmeal contains 0.16 gram of fibre per two teaspoons (10 grams) whereas, broccoli contains o.26 gram of fibre per 10 grams and for kale it contains 0.2 gram of fibre per 10 grams.
Nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of various minerals which are essential to our body. The major among these is magnesium and zinc. Magnesium is very important in maintaining the blood sugar level. It is involved in almost 400 reactions in the body which and is vital in maintaining good heart condition, metabolism, health, bone strength and digestion. Two teaspoons (10gm) of nutritional yeast contain other minerals like copper, iron and selenium. Another important mineral abundant in nutritional yeast is zinc. Zinc optimizes the metabolic performance of carbohydrates in the body to generate energy. This is not only important to blood sugar levels in the body, but also to overall immunity and weight. 20% of our body’s daily zinc requirement can be met by nutritional yeast alone, as 2 teaspoons (10gm) of nutritional yeast contain 2mg of zinc.
B Vitamins are one of the most important nutrients needed for our body on a daily basis. B vitamins help our body to use carbohydrates and also to maintain blood sugar levels. Nutritional yeast has a wealthy store of B vitamins. Two teaspoons (10gm) of nutritional yeast contains: 0.2 milligrams of Thiamin, 0.2 milligrams of Riboflavin, 2 milligrams of Niacin, 0.2 milligram of Vitamin B6 and 0.32 micrograms of Vitamin B12.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of Folic acid. Folic acid is an essential nutrient for pregnant women as it helps in preventing major birth defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid is important to those who are not pregnant also, as it plays a crucial role in cell production and maintenance.
Nooch is a very low carbohydrate food without any added sugar. Low glycemic foods are important to manage blood sugar since the body can only use so much of one nutrient at any given time. What it can’t use ends up remaining in the bloodstream and cause the pancreas to produce too much insulin as result to try and get rid of those glucose stores.
So, from all the above stats and figures, it is obvious that nooch is a rich source of all the essential nutrients needed for the human body. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise that regular consumption of nutritional yeast will provide you with several benefits.
What makes nooch so special is that it not only ‘super’ healthy and rich in nutrients, it is very tasty as well. It can be used in wide variety of dishes and recipes. Here are some of them.
- In any rice or pasta dish
- In sandwiches, salads and wraps
- Added soups, curries and broths
- sprinkled on popcorn, steamed veggies and stir fries
- Best additive to kale chips
- Stirred on mashed potatoes
- For making almond “parmesan” by blending nutritional yeast with some nuts in a food processor.
- Sprinkled on breads or rice cakes
- With garbanzo beans
- In soups, as a substitute to cream
- On scrambled tofu
- With peas, corns and carrots.
- On salads
- On steamed Kale etc.
- To make vegan nacho cheese
- Sprinkled on pizza( instead of cheese)
- To make hummus or pesto
The list of its applications is endless!
Whether you are vegan, vegetarians, dairy free or following a plant based diet, nooch is something you should add to your list of pantry staples.
Nutritional yeast is simply the best solution for those who are lactose intolerant but crave the flavour of cheese. So now you know why nooch is fast gaining popularity the world over!