Nutritional yeast is a popular food to add onto or into vegan meals but it can be tricky to know why you’d want to add it in the first place if you are new to vegan and plant-based eating. In this post, I’m going to cover 5 benefits of nutritional yeast (so you’ll know why you’d want to eat it), the best nutritional yeast brands (so you’ll know what to look for), and where to buy nutritional yeast (so you’ll know where to look). Sound like a plan? Ok, cool….let’s dive in…
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5 Benefits of Nutritional Yeast
- Vitamin B12 – Many nutritional yeasts are fortified with vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that must be obtained through food as although our body can recycle B12 in our colon, how efficient that process is can vary dramatically. Since B12 is primarily found in animal based products and a select few plant-based foods, nutritional yeast makes for a great source of this important vitamin!
- Protein – Protein is not what we typically think of when we think of nutritional yeast. However, with 3 grams of protein per tablespoon, it can add up fast! If you added 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to your pasta, rice, pizza, popcorn, or baked potatoes, you’d add the same amount of protein that’s in an egg! Talk about great things coming in small packages. 🙂
- Fiber – With each tablespoon of nutritional yeast, you’re consuming about 2 grams of fiber. Some small pieces of fruit have 2 grams of fiber, so with nutritional yeast you’re consuming a smaller portion yet but the same amount of fiber (plus all the protein and B vitamins!)
- Low in calories – Each tablespoon has about 30 calories which means that you’ll be consuming a nutrient dense food with few calories. This is extremely helpful for anyone trying to lose or maintain weight or prevent weight gain. There’s no need for “diet” foods when you rely on wholesome plant-based foods for your nutrition.
- Energy Boost – Vitamin B12 isn’t the only vitamin fortified in nutritional yeast. Oftentimes, there are a handful of other B vitamins including Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamine, and vitamin B6.
5 Best Nutritional Yeast Brands
Before we get into my personal favorite nutritional yeast brands to recommend as a vegan dietitian, I would like to say that there are more brands out there that are also good options. I will also say that not all nutritional yeast brands are fortified with B12 so it’s important to check and honestly, I wouldn’t rely solely on nutritional yeast for my Vitamin B12 needs. I would still take a supplement as a Vitamin B12 deficiency affects your neurological system and the effects of a deficiency are not always reversible (depending on the severity and length of the deficiency). So please, eat the nutritional yeast but also plan on taking Vitamin B12 supplements if you are following a vegan diet.
- Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast – Bob’s Red Mill is a household company that produces high quality whole grain products for the most part. Bob’s Red Mill Nutritional Yeast was one of the first ones I found in my local grocery store and it continues to be a favorite with 100% Vitamin B12 per tablespoon.
- Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning – Bragg’s is similar to Bob’s Red Mill to me in that they both provide high quality shelf-stable plant-based products. Braggs nutritional yeast is a great addition to your table or pantry as it comes in a shaker bottle that makes it easy to sprinkle on foods regularly (without making a nutritional yeast dust mess).
- Kal – Nutritional Yeast Flakes – I like the Kal Nutritional Yeast Flakes because they are fortified with many vitamins and minerals to add nutritional depth to your current eating lifestyle. The company has been around since 1932 (which I think is a huge achievement in itself) and makes high quality products like their nutritional yeast at a lower cost than many other companies I’ve found.
- Trader Joe’s Nutritional Yeast – Trader Joe’s nutritional yeast is a hot commodity in the stores and I personally like it as the flakes tend to be bigger than with other brands. Some nutritional yeasts are ground into a powder, but I like to see the large actual chunks for a stronger taste when sprinkled on foods.
- Anthony’s Premium Nutritional Yeast Flakes – If you’re looking for nutritional yeast that has not been fortified, Anthony’s Premium Nutritional Yeast Gives you two options: fortified and non-fortified nutritional yeast. This can be great if you don’t want the additional vitamins or you want to alternate back and forth.
Where to Find Nutritional Yeast
You can find nutritional yeast in the center aisles of many natural grocers. Nutritional yeast is generally located near the cornmeal, flour, and breadcrumb section. Although, I have also seen it by the spices and also by the rice/pasta section of the grocery store! I’ve found that nutritional yeast in each store (and whether or not a store carries it) can vary significantly. So, I generally find the best bet to find it is online (that way you’re not driving all over trying to find it too!)
I hope that helped give you a few reasons to start including nutritional yeast in your diet whether you are vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, or lover of all foods! I also help this list of brands I recommend as a vegan dietitian helps get you started. Again, I like to sprinkle it on/in soups (at time of serving), pasta, cheesy vegan sauces, baked potatoes, popcorn, sandwiches, toast….the possibilities are endless! If you have any questions about nutritional yeast or where to find it, comment below and I’d love to help you out!