Nutritional Yeast - Do You Need to Be Eating It?
True confession : I had no idea what nutritional yeast was until a few months ago. I definitely didn't know that it was often referred to as “nooch.” Even worse, I had this unsubstantiated idea that nutritional yeast was probably something I needed in order to truly be eating a “healthy” diet. Who was I kidding?! I didn't even know anything about it!
I routinely warn clients and consumers to not buy into the mystique of media hype surrounding food – yet here I was doing it subconsciously. So when I was developing recipes for a dairy-free project a few months ago, I used it as an opportunity to try out some “nooch” and maybe even learn a thing or two about it!
The Basics on Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is the same yeast strain that is used to make bread rise and to brew beer; however, the strain in nutritional yeast is dead, rather than alive. It is usually made specifically for consumption as a food product.
Nutritional yeast looks like a flakier, brighter yellow type of Parmesan cheese. Some stores stock it near baking ingredients, but I’ve also found it near the dietary supplements, protein powders, or probiotics.
Nutritional yeast is used frequently today as a dairy-free cheese substitute. It’s described by many as being slightly salty in flavor. Some describe it as cheesy or creamy (although I can’t say I fully agree!) with a cheesy-type chewiness or texture.
You often hear it touted as being high in protein and B vitamins which seems to be true. According to the database in my ESHA Research’s Food Processor, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains approximately 30 calories, 4g protein, and 2g fiber and provides more than 100% of the Daily Value for B-12, B-6 and most other B vitamins.
Nutritional yeast isn’t essential to a healthy diet but it can be a good substitute for cheese (particularly hard grated cheeses) if following a dairy-free diet. Vegetarians and vegans may also find it helpful since it contains all essential amino acids and is a source of B-12 – two things that plant foods can be lacking and may be hard to consume in adequate amounts.
The Bottom Line on Nutritional Yeast
If it appeals to you, then try it! Don’t sweat it though if "nooch" has zero appeal. There are definitely other ways to get the same nutrients!