Why The Best Vegan Protein Source For Your Smoothie Might Be Beer
Brewer’s yeast, the OG vegan protein supplement that’s a byproduct of its fermentation process, is making a reappearance in the health food aisle. It’s the latest old-is-new-again craze—and further proof that “protein” doesn’t necessarily have to mean meat.
The trend had its first wave in the US in the 1920s or ’30s, according to Jonathan Kauffman, author of the forthcoming Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat. “That was when scientists were just discovering vitamins and Americans were beginning to take supplements,” he says.
Its popularity peaked in the ’50s and ’60s when it became a recipe staple for holistic health gurus, who were known to get rather, ahem, hopped up on the stuff. But when nutritional yeast was discovered as a tastier replacement, it fell out of favor—only to re-emerge recently as a new go-to, now that more people are reconsidering meat-based diets and opting for that #veggielife instead.
And no, it won’t make you tipsy.
Here’s everything you need to know about the so-called “hippie dust” protein that will give you major energy.
Up your protein game
Brewer’s yeast is a fungal byproduct of the beer fermentation process, which is pasteurized and deactivated to leave behind a powdery or flaky yeast. But instead of being full of carbs like actual beer, the yeast packs a major protein punch: 1 oz. contains a whopping 11 grams (as compared to 6 grams in an oz. of chickpeas or 7 grams in an oz. of steak), and it serves up amino acids your body can’t produce on its own.
“Brewer’s yeast is a way to add in some extra protein without including tofu or another soy protein,” says Kimberly Snyder, celeb nutritionist and Well+Good Council member, who recommends yeast as a dietary supplement to her clients. “It’s also much easier to digest than animal protein or processed seitan products, and provides energy through its abundance of nutrition.”
Brewer’s yeast also contains chromium, which can be beneficial for controlling blood sugar; selenium, which supports thyroid and immune functions; and potassium, which helps control blood sugar and may decrease your chances of developing diabetes.
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