“Nooch” Your Average Supplement
Nutritional yeast (aka “Nooch”) is an MVP in the whole foods, plant-based pantry, as its robust, cheesy flavor is not only versatile, but low in sodium and calories, free of fat, gluten and sugar, and is vegan friendly! Fortified flakes offer additional nutrients including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B vitamins, and even trace minerals including zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum.
Three types of yeast are produced and harvested for consumption: brewer’s yeast, bitter in taste, purchased alive, and used to brew beer; baker’s yeast, earthy in taste, also purchased alive, used to leaven breads; and nutritional yeast, a savory, nutty taste, deactivated by point of purchase and grown specifically for the food market.
To make nutritional yeast flakes, S. Cerevisiae cells — thought to have originally been derived from the skin of grapes — are grown on a sugar-rich medium, deactivated with heat, harvested, washed and dried, crumbled and then packaged.
Fortified yeast flakes are helpful in the vegan diet as a way to get sufficient levels of vitamin B12, most commonly found in animal products. The body does not produce B12 itself so outside sources are imperative to ensure support for the nervous system, production of DNA and of healthy red blood cells, which serve to transport oxygen throughout the body. B12 deficiency can cause a multitude of health problems, and since the body cannot store it, getting enough every day is critical.
Another compelling consideration involves the two carbohydrates found in yeast, alpha-mannan and beta-glucan, both discovered through animal studies to protect against infection by preventing pathogens from attaching to the intestinal lining and by stimulating white blood cells. Beta glucan found in oats may lower cholesterol levels, as well. Although further research in humans is necessary, the evidence is promising.
Sprinkle over popcorn, season a plethora of delicious, heart-healthy vegan cheeses, and keep on hand for a multitude of other dishes in need of an earthy, cheesy flavor. The benefits gleaned from fortified or unfortified yeast flakes alike are abundant.