After years of avoiding the doctor because of my anxiety, I finally forced myself to get a physical. My doc was not thrilled with how long I’d let my personal medical attention lapse, but very kindly set me on the path to improving my overall wellness. This included meeting with a nutritionist who found my nutrient level pitifully lacking, especially in B12, which was apparently why I was feeling sluggish. She said I should start taking a daily supplement, and more surprisingly, she suggested I add nutritional yeast to more of my meals moving forward.
I randomly had some nutritional yeast in my cupboard (I bought it for a vegan queso recipe that I never actually ended up making), but was oblivious to how beneficial it could be. That, and I wasn’t exactly sure how to incorporate the golden yellow flecks into my dishes. Let's be real, it looks kind of weird and not exactly like something you'd want to consume. But once I got over the appearance, I quickly started enjoying the savory addition to my meals so much, the fact that I suddenly had more energy felt like an added perk!
Nutritional Yeast Benefits
As my own doctor mentioned, the most commonly cited benefit of nutritional yeast is a hefty boost of B12. Just one tablespoon of nutritional yeast can contain anywhere from 30 to 180 percent of the recommended daily intake for B vitamins, Erica Julson, MS, RDN, CLT, told Healthline.
It’s also a popular ingredient for anyone following a vegan or vegetarian diet because it is a great source of protein (about 2 grams per tablespoon) and amino acids. Non-meat-eaters aren’t the only ones who can take advantage, though. The ketogenic and paleo diets both emphasize adding more protein to your plate, and this could be a healthier option than some meats.
Dr. Julson also compared the beta-glucan in nutritional yeast to oats as a way to help lower cholesterol levels. She referenced a study from the Journal of Immunotoxicology, in which the cholesterol level decreased in participants by six percent over the course of two months after adding beta-glucan derived from yeast to their diets.
More studies are being done to uncover all the ways nutritional yeast — or “noosh” as it’s sometimes known — can help with other areas of health. With all that in mind, though, you might be wondering how you can even use the flakes. Luckily, it's easy! You can sprinkle them on pretty much anything! The nutty, salty taste can add a savory, cheese-like flavor to pasta, potatoes, and snacks like popcorn. I personally love sprinkling it onto sautéed veggies and steamed sweet potatoes.
Before you dive into adding nutritional yeast to your recipes, though, you should check with your doctor to make sure it’s the right choice for you. If they give you the thumbs up, go ahead and grab some from your local grocery store or online ($14.99, Amazon). You'll feel more energized, and might just love the taste, too!
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