Nutritional yeast, similar to brewer's yeast, is a nutritional supplement popular with vegans and the health conscious, who use it as an ingredient in recipes or simply as a condiment. It is a deactivated yeast, usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium. Some brands of nutritional yeast, though not all, are fortified with vitamin B12. The vitamin B12 is produced separately from bacteria and then added to the yeast.
Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of parmesan cheese. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn. Some movie theaters offer it along with salt or cayenne pepper as a popcorn condiment.
It is commercially available in the form of flakes,photo or as a yellow powder similar in texture to cornmeal, and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. In Australia it is sometimes sold as "savory yeast flakes." In Canada it has been known to be called "good tasting yeast".
Though "nutritional yeast" usually refers to commercial products, inadequately fed prisoners have used "home-grown" yeast to prevent vitamin deficiency.
Nutritional yeast is different from yeast extract, which has a very strong flavour and comes in the form of a dark brown paste. Other species of yeast are used for making beer, wine, and bread.