Nooch (Nutritional Yeast) --- Top 7 Health Benefits
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Nooch (Nutritional Yeast) --- Top 7 Health Benefits

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April 23, 2015
By LOUISE CARR, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Okay, the name itself  --- "nooch" or "nutritional yeast" ---  is enough to put anyone off giving this flaky, savory powdery food product a try. But while the name may be bland, nooch, is a favorite with in-the-know vegans, vegetarians and healthy eaters.

Nooch is a significant source of B vitamins for optimum well-being, along with a host of other vitamins and minerals. If you've never heard of nooch, you're going to want to give it a try when you check out its roster of health benefits.

What on Earth is Nooch?

Nooch  is a deactivated yeast, which means it doesn't froth, bubble or grow like regular yeast does.

Nooch is made from the single-cell organism "Saccharomyces Cerevisiae". This fungus is grown on molasses and then it is harvested, washed and dried to "deactivate" it. Nooch comes in the form of flakes or a loose yellow powder and you can probably find it at Whole Foods as well as larger health food stores.

How to Use Nooch

Nooch is popular with vegans because it has a unique nutty, cheesy flavor that makes it ideal to use as an ingredient in place of cheese.

Sprinkle some nooch on mashed potatoes, use it on top of fried polenta, mix it into pasta sauce, sprinkle it on popcorn, or have it with scrambled tofu for breakfast.

Even if you are not a vegan nooch is a good ingredient for bringing out the flavor in dishes as diverse as soups, gravies, bean dishes, curry, and veggie dishes - nooch lovers say that nutritional yeast brings a richness to foods without having to add cream or salt.

What is the Nutritional Value of Nooch?

As the name suggest, nutritional yeast is a nutritious food. It's got B vitamins, folic acid, iron, zinc, selenium, and protein. Many brands are gluten free and it is always low in fat with no added sugar or preservatives. Not all nooch has vitamin B12 but some brands have it as a supplement, making it an ideal food for vegans.
1. Nooch is a Vegetarian Source of Vitamin B12

Not all nooch contains vitamin B12 but it can be fortified with the nutrient.

Vitamin B12 is important for the normal activity of nerve cells and the nutrient also acts with folate to lower levels of  homocysteine, a chemical in the bloodstream that could contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Vegans must take vitamin B12 supplements or eat B12-fortified foods or they will eventually become deficient, according to a 2000 study from the Hallelujah Acres Foundation, NC. Most sources of vitamin B12 are animal-based so the vitamin B12 from nooch is ideal for vegetarians looking to boost their intake - just one tablespoon of nooch meets the adult daily requirements for B12. 

2. Nooch is High in Protein

All brands are different but on average two tablespoons of nooch contain around 9g of protein - more than in one cup of whole milk or one egg. Nooch is also a complete protein, meaning it provides all nine amino acids that the body cannot make itself.

3. Nooch is Gluten-Free

People with a sensitivity to gluten can consume nooch and enjoy the nutritional benefits of the yeast without worrying about gluten side effects.

A 2013 study from UniversitÓ Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy recorded the characteristics of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a condition marked by intestinal symptoms and pain.
Always check the label of your nooch if you are on a gluten-free diet to make sure it is certified gluten free.

4. Nooch is a Source of Beta-1,3 Glucan

Beta-1,3 glucan is found in fungi, including nooch. It is a type of soluble fiber that may have heart-healthy benefits.

Most studies have taken place into glucan in oats, but beta-1,3 glucan in nooch may be useful for improving blood pressure levels, modestly improving cholesterol profile, and limiting the rise in blood sugar after a meal according to a 1999 study from the University of California.

5. Nooch is a High-Fiber Food

Fiber is essential for keeping your gut healthy and limiting the risk of digestive disorders.

Fiber is a boon for people who suffer from constipation. Fiber may even help to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension, according to a 2005 study from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans. A small serving of nooch provides between 3 and 4 grams of fiber.

6. Nooch is an Important Source of Folic Acid

A serving of nooch provides 60 percent of the daily value for folic acid - an essential nutrient for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant.

Folic acid supplements dramatically reduce the risk of children being born with a birth defect called neural tube defect.

A 1993 study from the Boston University School of Medicine says that a relatively high dietary intake of folate may also reduce the risk of neural tube defect. Some evidence, including a 2006 report from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, says that folic acid may even help reduce the risk of stroke.

7. Nooch is a Source of Glutathione , A Scavenger of Free Radicals

Glutathione is a protein made from the amino acids glutamic acid and glycine, which are found in nooch. It is a "defense" protein that acts against free radicals in the blood to provide an antioxidant effect. The body makes this protein from scratch and supplements are not proven to work, so getting this protein from nooch makes sense.

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