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Nutritional Yeast; Composition, Characteristics and Benefits

Nutritional yeast“, which has become very popular recently, is a new generation commercial product produced by the reproduction, clarification and drying of Saccharomyces cerevisiae type yeast, which is also used as bread and brewer’s yeast and then inactivates it by enzyme and heat treatment.

In other words, the product is completely dried yeast cells. This type of yeast has the ability to produce very high amounts of B-group vitamins.

Nutritional yeasts are also known as “yeast extract” or “nooch” worldwide as commercial products.

Since nutritional yeast contains both yeast cells and the vitamins they produce, they are rich in terms of protein, minerals and B-group vitamins (except B12). Some commercial products are further enriched in terms of nutrition by adding additives.

Nutritional yeasts have a pale yellow color and are available in different forms such as fine flakes, granules or powders in the market.

It is marketed as a very useful product, especially for vegans, both in terms of B group vitamins and protein.

It is stated by the manufacturers that daily consumption of 5-10 grams is ideal. Generally, if it is to be added to foods, it is recommended to add 1%.

Nutritional yeasts can be used to increase the nutritional value of foods and can also be used as a spice due to their unique flavor.

The taste of nutritional yeast is described as salty and umami. When used for flavoring, adding 1% nutritional yeast to foods usually provides a good taste.

The first purpose of nutritional yeast was to be used as a food additive to flavor ready-made foods.

Nutritional yeasts have been widely used as a flavor food additive in the member states of the British Commonwealth for nearly 50 years.

In the world, its consumption is increasing day by day, both as a spice and as additional food.

What is the difference between active dry or instant yeast and “nutritional yeast”?

Saccharomyces cerevisiae type yeasts are found naturally in many environments in nature. These yeast strains with certain properties have already been used for thousands of years as culture yeast in the production of foods such as bread, beer and wine.

Nutritional yeasts are also produced from these yeast species with certain characteristics.

The difference between nutritional yeast from active dry or instant yeast used at home is that nutritional yeasts are inactive. That is, the cells in dry yeast are alive and have the ability to reproduce in the appropriate environment.

However, the cells in the nutritional yeast are not active, they are fragmented and cannot reproduce and develop.

Therefore, active and dry yeasts used to make bread and pastries at home are not consumed by adding them to ready-made foods such as “nutritional yeasts”.

What is the content of nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a natural combination of amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and is rich in high-quality proteins. It contains all nine essential amino acids that must be taken with food. It is naturally low in sodium and calories and is fat-free.

It contains zinc, selenium, manganese and molybdenum, which are involved in gene regulation, metabolism, growth, reproduction and immune functions. It is not possible to make a definitive list of the content of nutritional yeast.

As a matter of fact, the nutritional content differs from brand to brand and whether or not an addition is made. Therefore, it would be more reasonable to choose by looking at the label of the product to be purchased according to the need.

Although nutritional yeast does not contain any animal foods, it tastes similar to meat bouillon. This is because both nutritional yeast and meat bouillon contain amino acids that give them the same taste.

Nutritional yeasts are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals for vegans as they do not contain animal food. Similarly, nutritional yeast is gluten-free and can be used as a reliable supplement for celiac patients.

What should be considered when buying?

• The product must not be produced from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

• The individual should not be allergic to these yeasts.

• It is useful to stay away from products with added additives for enrichment; these additives are usually produced by synthetic means.

• The prices of the products are currently quite high for general use.

• It is worth noting that; the only difference between the products called “nutritive yeast” and the fresh and dry yeast used to make bread and dough at home is that the yeast cells are inactivated in nutritional yeasts.

In dough and bread yeast, cells are not inactivated because the yeast is required to work. In short, bread made from sourdough or a pastry made with dry yeast already contains also the nutritional content of products called “nutritional yeast”.

How is nutritional yeast produced?

It was previously mentioned that the type of yeast used as nutritional yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nutritional yeasts are obtained from fresh yeast in a 5-step process until they become commercial products.

In fermentation, the first step in the production of nutritional yeast, sugar is added to feed the yeast. This sugar source is mostly molasses, a by-product of the sugar industry. The fermentation temperature is 30 degrees Celsius for the best possible growth of the yeast.

Fermentation is carried out in tanks called fermenters, with sufficient sugar supply, sufficient oxygen supply and appropriate temperature.

After fermentation, the growing and proliferating yeast cells are concentrated and washed in centrifuges to remove residual sugar. As a result, a viscous and creamy yeast mass is obtained.

Then the yeast is placed in large tanks at a temperature of 45-55 degrees Celsius. Yeast stops growing at about 40 degrees Celsius. The enzyme is added to yeast whose growth is stopped.

In this way, the proteins found in yeast cells are broken down into smaller components and the cell wall surrounding the cell dissolves so that the cell contents can be exposed.

Cell wall particles are separated and removed. Therefore, nutritional yeast consists of proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals from the yeast cell without the cell wall surrounding the cell.

The result is a mixture where smaller molecules can now leave the yeast cell and mix with the aqueous solution in the tank.

This process can be controlled using various factors. For example, the time and temperature the yeast spends in the tanks are very important and have a significant impact on the flavor of the yeast extract.

The product from the process has a flavor similar to that of meat bouillon; this is because it has a very similar amino acid profile to meat.

To produce the final yeast extract, it is centrifuged to remove the yeast cell walls from the mixture.

Finally, the yeast extract is concentrated to a paste-like consistency in gentle evaporation at about 60 degrees Celsius or spray-dried to completely evaporate the water from the mixture and dry the product.

The nutritional yeast is now ready to be packaged. The product is packaged and becomes ready for consumption.


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