By Alexis Weilbaecher, RD

You may have heard of nutritional yeast, or even tried it, but what exactly are the benefits of this food product?  Nutritional yeast is derived from a strain of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which comes from sugar cane or beet molasses.  The yellow flaky appearance is produced through the heat treatment process.  Although the name may seem unappealing, nutritional yeast is a quick, easy and delicious way to add extra nutritional value to your meal.

Think of nutritional yeast as being a healthier “cheese-like” substitute.  This flaky product has a cheesy, nutty flavor that won’t disappoint your taste buds. 

Anyone can benefit from adding nutritional yeast into their daily meal plan, but especially  vegetarians or vegans (those who need more animal-based protein and B vitamins).  Nutritional yeast is a complete protein, providing 18 amino acids, nine of which are essential amino acids that your body cannot produce.  Just two tablespoons provide only 50 calories, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein and 130 percent B12 (B12 is a vitamin typically found in animal-based foods, such as red meat and eggs).  If you don’t consume much of these nutrients, nutritional yeast would be a great alternative. You can find it at any health food store as well as some grocery stores.

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Easy ways to add nutritional yeast into your daily routine:

Make cheese toast:

  • Grab a slice of 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain bread, spread 1 tablespoon vegan Earth Balance Spread (or spread of choice), and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for that extra kick.
  • If you’re not a fan and want to minimize the taste, you can add a couple of tablespoons into a homemade smoothie.
  • Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons onto your salad, oatmeal or popcorn.
  • Trying to eat more veggies?  Add some on top of a vegetable medley.

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