7 Reasons to Feel Great About Your Nutritional Yeast Addiction
While I’d heard of nutritional yeast before I went vegan, I’d certainly never tried it on purpose. Luckily, I quickly got wise to the majesty that is Nooch Life—and I’m never going back. Nutritional yeast (also known as savory yeast, yeshi, and brufax) has become my favorite condiment. I sprinkle the cheezy-tasting flakes on just about everything I can think of, from salad to pasta to popcorn. In fact, when I ran out of the stuff for 36 crazy-long hours last week, it hit me: I am a nooch addict.
Luckily for all us vegans, nooch addiction isn’t a bad thing! Here are seven reasons you can feel great about sprinkling nutritional yeast on all things, all the time.
1. It’s a Great Source of B12—and Lots of Other Good Stuff
This is the nooch benefit most of us vegans already know and love. Nutritional yeast is just deactivated yeast, often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, usually sourced from molasses or wood pulp. When it’s packaged and sold, it’s usually fortified with tons of vitamins you need—B12 included.
While B12 is naturally found in soil and could be obtained by eating plants that have some leftover dirt on them, today we know the importance of washing our veggies before eating them. Therefore, vegans should either take B12 supplements or eat foods like nutritional yeast that are high in the vitamin.
Just a quarter cup of nutritional yeast over the course of a day gives you 290 percent of your daily value (DV) of vitamin B12! But that’s not all—it also provides nine grams of protein, 790 percent DV of vitamin B1, 570 percent DV of vitamin B2, 300 percent DV of vitamin B6, 230 percent DV of vitamin B3, 270 percent DV of vitamin B9, 20 percent DV of zinc, and 16 percent DV of fiber.
(Weird fact: Nutritional yeast is so nutrient-dense it’s even been used to help prevent vitamin deficiency among prisoners of war. I mean, it says “nutritional” right there in the name.)
Nooch also provides the compounds beta-glucan (more on that in a second), trehalose, mannan, and glutathione, all of which are associated with enhanced immunity, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced cancer risk.
2. It Helps Prevent the Common Cold and Supports Immune Function
I knew that nutritional yeast was a good source of vitamin B12 and fiber, but it wasn’t until I heard Dr. Michael Gregor, author of How Not to Die, speak that I learned its benefits go beyond even that.
According to two double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials published in Food and Nutrition Sciences and European Journal of Nutrition, beta-glucan found in nutritional yeast strengthens our immune system. Recurrence of the common cold was 25 percent less likely for those who ate the equivalent of about a spoonful of nutritional yeast a day. Even better, when the subjects did manage to get sick, they reported fewer cold-related sleeping difficulties.
Basically, nutritional yeast works to prevent illness by stimulating our body’s defense against viruses. Our body recognizes yeast as a foreign invader—and our immune system kicks into gear. You’d think that might actually trigger an inflammatory response, but as Dr. Gregor writes, “[T]hese fiber compounds may actually have an anti-inflammatory effect, suggesting nutritional yeast may offer the best of both worlds, boosting the infection fighting side of the immune system while suppressing inflammatory components.” In other words, nooch is a win-win for your body.
3. It May Improve Your Mood and Make You Feel Less Stressed
In a study of athletes who consumed nutritional yeast, participants who had just a tablespoon of nutritional yeast a day reported a significant boost in their “vigor,” as well as feeling less tense, fatigued, confused, and angry. Researchers think this is because the yeast counteracts the negative effects of stress on the immune system. Another study on the beta-glucans in yeast found they helped improve respiratory symptoms and mood in stressed women. Can’t hurt.
4. It Helps Athletes Recover
Because of nooch’s immune-boosting properties and nutrient density, it makes sense that nutritional yeast has been proven to help athletes recover from intense workouts. In an article published in Nutrition Science News, Dr. Alan Christianson, ND, notes that nutritional yeast helps repair cell damage, aidstissue regeneration, improves wound healing, and prevents iron deficiency, thanks to its high levels of selenium and zinc.
And remember the study that found nutritional yeast improves mood in athletes? It also confirmed nooch improves recovery time and increases resistance to illness after intense workouts.
5. It May Actually Help Prevent Yeast Infections
When I first heard about nutritional yeast, the name sounded gross—or worse, like something that could give me a yeast infection! Actually, the opposite is true. Dr. Seymour Pomper, an expert in yeast (yes, that is a thing), says consuming nutritional yeast is one of the best ways to remedy and prevent chronic candida symptoms, due to nooch’s antiviral and antibacterial properties. (I wouldn’t try direct application though.)
6. It Can Help an Upset Stomach
Though more research is needed, probiotics found in nutritional yeast have been shown to help with upset stomach, diarrhea, and lactose intolerance—though vegans don’t have to worry about the last one!
7. It’s Cheaper Than Vitamins
Buy it in bulk like I do, and save even more money! One teaspoon of nooch costs only nine cents—but gives you 50 to 100 percent of your DV for all B vitamins, plus selenium, iron, and the many other health benefits we just learned about. You probably still want to supplement B12 just to be sure, but you could probably get all you need from a steady nutritional yeast intake.
So there you have it: permission to go nooch wild! It will help your body without hurting your wallet… or animals. You certainly can’t say the same for Parmesan cheese.