Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of the yeast commonly used in leavened bread and brewed beer. Once the yeast is harvested and heated, the fungus is dried out and flaked off into a crumble that best resembles fish food or shaved cheese. It transforms from an active agent into a nutritionally dense, umami boosting condiment.
Nutritional yeast is most commonly used as a vegan and vegetarian staple to add a deep, cheese-like flavor to dishes. It is often sprinkled on scrambles and pasta, but can also be mixed in to enhance both flavor and benefits. As its name implies, it has a unique nutritional profile as a complete protein. One tablespoon serving of fortified nutritional yeast will provide a significant source of B vitamins, specifically B-12, as well as iron and riboflavin.
Due to its manufacturing process, it is naturally free of sodium, gluten, and sugar. However, this process also releases a naturally occurring amino acid known as glutamic acid. Since our bodies naturally make glutamic acid, high amounts could lead to brain damage. It also contains high levels of phosphorus which can cause an imbalance in calcium absorption. However, nutritional yeast should not cause issues when consumed in moderation.