What Is Nutritional Yeast And How To Use It

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Narinder Singh
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Nutritional yeast is a seasoning or food ingredient that comes in tiny flakes and is used in vegan foods and recipes to add a cheesy flavor. It is made from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which grows on molasses. The yeast is then processed in a factory to deactivate it. As such, this yeast is not good for use as a fermenting agent.

It gets the word “nutritional” in its name because usually the commercial producers of this seasoning fortify it with natural or artificial additives that are supposed to be good for human health.

To give an example, the “Bragg” brand of nutritional yeast seasoning contains Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine HCI (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamine HCI (B1), Folic Acid, and vitamin B12, apart from inactive dry yeast.

Is It Really Good?

There are differing opinions.

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I say, it is good for two reasons. One, it serves a very useful purpose by adding a cheesy flavor to vegan foods. You can make a vegan cheese sauce with a few vegetables and a bit of nutritional yeast. You can even make vegan Parmesan cheese powder. Don’t these make your life a little easier if you are vegan?

Two, it works as a vitamin supplement. Now what is wrong with that?

You can find several articles online that sing praises of nutritional yeast only because of its vitamin content.

Some Say It Is Bad

There is a view that nutritional yeast is not vegan health food. Even though the manufacturers of nutritional yeast merely call it a seasoning, which means it is supposed to be used only to add flavor, this product has inspired some to call it “dangerous”. The criticism is due to the alleged presence of MSG in the yeast, even though no MSG is added to the product.

I do not know, may be some unknown quantity of MSG is present in nutritional yeast. But that will matter only if you are eating lots of nutritional yeast as a food supplement. Otherwise, if you are using it just as a flavoring agent in some of your cooking, there is no real cause for concern.

Possible Side Effects?

Although very rare, there are possible side effects of consuming nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a good source of dietary fiber. If you habitually take a diet low in fiber, suddenly adding nutritional yeast to your diet may cause an upset stomach.

Another possible issue is for the people suffering from migraine. Because some yeast products contain tyramine, consuming nutritional yeast may trigger an attack of migraine in some individuals.

It is easy to avoid the possible side effects of nutritional yeast by starting with a small quantity. Actually, there is no real need to take nutritional yeast in large quantities because it is just a flavoring agent. It may become a problem only when someone starts consuming it as a supplement or as a health food.

For the sake of clarity, I will mention here that nutritional yeast is used as a food supplement because it contains some nutrients, particularly vitamin B12 that vegans miss in their diet.

How To Use Nutritional Yeast

Like I already said, nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor to your food. It can be sprinkled on pop corn, on a sandwich, on a salad, on roasted vegetables, or on just about any snack when you want a cheesy flavor. Of course, you can use it to make cruelty-free cheese at home. Enjoy being a responsible citizen of the earth.

Happy cooking.

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