Monday, September 17, 2012

Nutritional Yeast - Finding the Best Brand (Product Review Part 2)

I discovered nutritional yeast and it took over my life. I avoided trying it for so long because it sounded gross, but once I tried it, I was hooked.

<< See: Part 1 What is Nutritional Yeast?

It didn't take me long to realize there is quite a difference between brands. Obviously it isn't sold at all grocery stores, and I didn't want to go to the trouble of ordering it online, so I set out to find the best that I could find sold locally in Calgary / Canadian grocery stores.

I'm sure most health food stores will carry the product, but I tracked down four types sold near me: unidentified brand from Bulk Bin, Red Star brand from Community Natural Foods, Purely Bulk from Superstore, and Bob's Red Mill from Superstore.


I've been able to find four different brands of nutritional yeast at my local grocery stores.
From left to right:
1. Generic (unidentified brand from Bulk Barn... the clerks didn't know)
2. Red Star (from bulk bin at Community Natural Foods)
3. Purely Bulk 
4. Bob's Red Mill

1. Bulk Barn Generic  2. Red Star  3. Purely Bulk  4. Bob's Red Mill


Nutritional yeast comes in sizes ranging from large flakes to fine powder. I tend to prefer larger flakes because of the texture when sprinkled onto salads and popcorn. If you're cooking it (such as into pasta or sauces) it doesn't matter. But I definitely tend to use it sprinkled into food more often and I find that I enjoy the texture of the larger flakes.

Generic / Red Star (bulk from Community Natural Foods) - Both the bulk products were fairly powdery -- probably from getting knocked around when getting put into the bulk bins and subsequently getting scooped out again.
Bulk Barn sample (flake size fairly similar to Red Star brand, not pictured)

Purely Bulk had the largest flake size. Like I said, I put this into my salad, and I definitely like it better as a large flake due to the texture than just as a powder.
Purely Bulk - largest flakes

Bob's Red Mill had a medium flake size compared to the other contenders (although its packaging does say that it is 'large' flakes).
Bob's Red Mill - medium flakes


Most the products are pretty comparable in nutrition. This stuff is seriously a nutritional powerhouse.

From the Bob's Red Mill label (per 1/4 cup or 12g serving):
  • Calories 50kcal
  • Protein 6g
  • Carbohydrate 5g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Fat 0.5g
  • Sodium 0mg

Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Info

Awesome right? Low-cal, high-protein, high-fiber. Also suitable for certain diets: sodium free, gluten free.

I did notice that some brands online highlight that their product have been fortified with vitamin b12, which is a common deficiency of many vegetarians and vegans.

I couldn't get any info on the bulk products, but it appears that Purely Bulk is not fortified, while Bob's Red Mill is fortified. There is 7mcg of vitamin B12 per 1/4 cup (12g) of Bob's Red Mill. To put things into perspective, the RDA for vitamin b12 is 2.4mcg for most adults. But do take note that this stuff is naturally high in all vitamin B's anyway -- you're probably getting too much vitamin B if you're eating this on a regular basis.

That being said, vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin and luckily does not deposit in the fat. You end up just urinating it out. Studies have also found that higher doses of vitamin b12 do not seem to be toxic. Sure. I found this out the hard entertaining way: my pee was bright neon yellow and I remember learning in school that vitamin B makes your pee that color. Anyway, don't be alarmed at the bright yellow pee. Just stay well-hydrated, and eat your nooch in moderation.


1. Bulk Barn  - $1.99 per 100g
2. Red Star (bulk from Community Natural Foods)  - $2.99 per 100g
3. Purely Bulk - $6.99/180g = $3.88 per 100g
4. Bob's Red Mill - $8.25/226g = $3.76 per 100g

The cheapest was the Bulk Barn variety at only $2 per 100g, with Purely Bulk as the priciest still only at $3.88 per 100g. Not a big price leap either way, but I guess if you are eating as much of this stuff as I am, it is good to know.


This was fun - to try all four types side-by-side. On their own, they all taste OK for the most part*. Cheesy, nutty flavor from all of them. But when you have them next to each other, you can really tell the difference.

1. Bulk Barn - This was by far the worst nutritional yeast ever because it tasted like bulk bins: it tasted like a mix of all the seasonings and spices stored adjacent to the nooch at the store. Gross. Not sure what brand this was, but I feel like the low turnover of this kind of product at a place like Bulk Barn (as compared to a health food store) surely didn't help.

2. Community Natural Foods  - This was my second favorite. Nutty, cheesy, just the way you want it to taste.

3. Purely Bulk - By far the best flavor. Lots of nutty flavor. Lots of umami flavor. Cheesy, nutty, delicious. Awesome!

4.  Bob's Red Mill - Sour. What the heck? I was really hoping to like this one since I am usually a huge fan of their products. But it literally tasted a bit sour and not cheesy at all. Maybe I'd gotten a bad batch?! The package said that it was best stored in the fridge/freezer.. but really, all of these products were purchased from the store at room temperature. This product was only marginally better than the Bulk Barn one, sadly.



Best: Purely Bulk
Worst: Bulk Barn

Purely Bulk
  • Best flavor by far. Lots of umami flavor and absolutely delicious. I could (and do..) eat it by the spoonful.
  • Nice large flakes.
  • Nutritionals: comparable to other nooch. I didn't need it to be fortified with vitamin B12, and it wasn't. Vegetarians/vegans might want/need that in their nooch, but I'm good without the add-in.
  • Most expensive of the lot. But a tub of the stuff (180g) lasts me long enough and is certainly worth it.