You’ve seen nutritional yeast sprinkled on salads and roasted veggies, and you might have heard nutritionists telling you to make it a regular addition to your plates, but what exactly is nutritional yeast—and what health benefits does it offer? Here, Jennie Miremadi, M.S., integrative nutritionist and EFT practitioner, sheds some light on this superfood, or should you say, super flake?
What is nutritional yeast?
Often nicknamed “nooch,” it’s an inactive form of yeast (the saccharomyces cervisae strain, to be specific), and Miremadi says it’s grown on other foods, like sugarcane and beet molasses, and then processed (harvest, wash, pasteurize, dry) to get it at ready-to-eat levels. Surprisingly, though, it doesn’t have any sugar or a sweet taste, despite its origin on foods that have naturally-occurring sugar. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “Nutritional yeast has a rich, nutty, cheese-like taste that can enhance the flavor of many savory vegan dishes,” says Miremadi. And because it comes in yellow flakes or a powder form, it’s super easy to “dust” onto meals to kick your flavor—and health benefits—up a notch.