Can something exist that’s cheesy, savory, and…good for you?
No, it’s not Cheetos. Nutritional yeast, the latest superfood heralded by the vegan community, is just that, and it’s making its way into mainstream cuisine.
Once available exclusively in niche health food stores, nutritional yeast is popping up in local stores like Walmart and Whole Foods. Aptly dubbed ‘nature’s Cheetos dust’, the popular ingredient is being used for an array of cuisines, from boosting popcorn flavour to roasted vegetable seasoning.
What exactly is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is an inactive, dry form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast. Live S. cerevisiae is used to bake bread and brew beer, but nutritional yeast is deactivated with heat during its processing. Coming in either power or flakes, nutritional yeast tastes cheesy, nutty, and on the verge of salty even without the sodium content.
Is nutritional yeast good for you?
“Nooch packs more than 100% of the daily value for B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, plus folate and vitamins B6 and B12 — all of which are crucial for helping you convert food to energy and maintain a normal metabolism,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Adequate dietary intake of these nutrients during pregnancy and lactation is critical to proper fetal brain development and supporting cognition during adulthood.”
If you’re not a fan of the superfood, you’re still good – all of these vitamins can be found through other dietary choices like meat, seafood, dairy, whole grains, and veggies. But, nutritional yeast is an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans in particular – due to their limited diet options – and those watching their salt intake.
“As an R.D., I love it as a swap for higher-sodium foods since it’s super flavorful without any added sodium,” London adds.
Photo Credit: SUPERGAL/Shutterstock.com; Ninva Firsova/Shutterstock.com