What Is Nutritional Yeast?
You would think that for such an important food product for vegans, somebody would have developed a better, more appetizing name than “nutritional yeast”. The best we get is its nickname, “nooch”.
Nutritional yeast, or “nooch”, is derived from the same species of yeast used to make kombucha, beer and bread. It’s inactive and has no leavening ability.
Nooch adds a cheesy, nutty flavor to foods, so it’s often added to salad dressings, cheese-like spreads, sauces, dips and on popcorn.
Not only does it add a lot of flavor, though. It also contains several important vitamins and minerals.
Let’s break down the benefits of nooch:
• Nooch contains large amounts of B vitamins and is usually fortified with Vitamins B6 and B12, especially vital for non-red meat eaters. B vitamins are important for metabolism, energy production, hormone regulation and making red blood cells. Vitamin B12 usually comes from the soil, which is absorbed through the grass a beef cow eats. It then passes to meat-eaters when they eat a piece of beef, a steak or a burger.
However, thanks to modern agricultural methods, a lot of the soil is depleted of B12, so even those who eat red meat are deficient.
• Nooch contains 50% protein by weight, a very rich amount! It has 2 grams of protein per tablespoon.
• Nooch is rich in lysine, an amino acid that helps prevent cold sores.
It also contains tryptophan. Tryptophan converts into serotonin, which helps elevate our moods and promotes better sleep.
• Nooch is very mineral-rich as well, particularly in zinc, selenium, magnesium, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium and chromium. These combine to give us a boost to both our immune system and metabolism. Chromium has also been found to help with blood sugar regulation.
• How about antioxidants? Well, good news again: Nooch supplies those in the form of glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant we naturally produce while young, but stop producing as we get older. Glutathione helps protect our cells and eliminate toxins from our body. It also plays a role in cellular defense mechanisms. Nooch is abundant with glutathione, at 2.5mg/gram. That alone a big reason to figure out how to get more of it into your diet.
• Nooch has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
• Nooch can help lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Can we all immediately add nutritional yeast to our diets? The vast majority of us can. However, if you have any of the following health challenges, you should avoid it:
• A yeast allergy
• Crohn's disease
• It might need to be avoided if you have celiac disease
Nooch provides a great, tasty replacement for those working on eliminating cheese from their diet. It contains no fat and is high in protein. If you’re diabetic, it benefits you towards insulin sensitivity. You can find many recipes online using nutritional yeast for sauces, spreads and dressings.
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