A while back, reader Joan mentioned in the comments section that she’d like to hear a little more about nutritional yeast. This is the yellow powder that you often see me add to my salads and to my homemade popcorn. It has a light cheesy flavor and a powdery texture.
I purchased my first container of nutritional yeast quite a few years back and never finished it (it expired just recently and I had to throw out almost a full tub.) At that time, I wasn’t as into eating for ‘nutrients’ as much as I was for ‘macronutrient ratios’ (protein, fat, carbs) so I always forgot to pull it out of the pantry and use it. Then after reading “The Thrive Diet” this year by Brendan Brazier I was reacquainted with its benefits.
Now before you think I just read willy-nilly and do whatever Brendan writes (or other authors for that matter) I want to point out that Brendan is a PROFESSIONAL (and VEGAN) Ironman Triathlete and ultramarathoner who has done extensive research on how to care for his body to ensure the fastest recovery time between workouts so that he could train and stay healthy and injury-free, all while not eating any animal products. This has been a passion of his since he was 15. I am inclined to put a fair amount of stock in the athletic/nutritional studies of someone who can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and THEN run a full marathon (and does this for a living). If you haven’t read his book, I highly recommend it, whether you are an athlete or not, and whether you eat meat or not. He has a lot of good information on the effects of nutritional stress on our bodies.
So, that all said – nutritional yeast is popular among vegetarians for its B-vitamin content, namely B12, because B12 is one vitamin that isn’t found as much in plant-based food sources.
Having given up all meat outside of the very occasional seafood, making sure I was getting enough B12 was a priority to me. There are many reasons to avoid a B12 deficiency, but one reason that ranked high for me was to avoid low energy and anemia (since B12 helps with formation of red blood cells).
I purchased another big tub of these savory flakes at Whole Foods and started adding it to a lot of my food. It hides very well, mixes well, melts into soups and chilis and works like sprinkle cheese in a variety of foods. I can tell you that this time I will use up the whole tub before it expires!
One thing to note is that oftentimes you will see Brewers Yeast and Nutritional Yeast discussed interchangeably. They are not.
Additionally nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, which means it is generally considered fine for those on an anti-candida diet.*
Now here’s the catch: I’ve been doing some additional reading on the topic of nutritional yeast in preparation for this post and found that not all nutritional yeast brands contain vitamin B-12, so you want to look for one that has the fortification (if that’s the reason you have for eating nutritional yeast to begin with).
Come to find out today that my brand is NOT! The front of the can says ” Natural Source of B Vitamins”! Which would lead one to believe that includes B-12. Not so much! Go figure! I’ll be sure to get the RIGHT one next time!
So, if you are interested in adding nutritional yeast to boost your B-12 intake, READ YOUR LABELS CLOSELY! And select a brand that includes the B-12.
What is your favorite use of Nutritional Yeast (if you currently use it)? I think I would vote for the popcorn topping!
If you’d some further reading on nutritional yeast, here are a few links:
*Before embarking on any nutrition, supplementation or fitness regimen, please consult with your physician.