Is nutritional yeast good for you?
Nutritional yeast provides vitamin B12, protein and other nutrients.
If you are a vegetarian, nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12 and complete protein. Even nonvegetarians can eat or make use of this yeast in their food as a health supplement.
Nonvegetarians get an adequate supply of vitamin B12 from meat and fish. Vegetarians are left with fewer options to obtain their protein and vitamin B12 requirements. Apart from being rich in vitamin B12 and other nutrients, nutritional yeast pleases your taste buds because it has a cheesy taste.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is prepared from the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is the same yeast used to prepare baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast. However, the yeast cells are killed during the manufacturing process.
Nutritional yeast has a nutty and cheese-like flavor, which makes it a popular substitute for cheese in various food items.
To produce nutritional yeast, <i>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</i> is grown on mixtures of cane and beet molasses. After the mixture is fermented, the yeast goes through various processes including harvesting, washing, pasteurization and drying. The final product, nutritional yeast, is then packaged.
Nutritional yeast is rich in nutrients, but it may be fortified with other nutrients to enhance its nutritional value. It is available in various stores and supermarkets in the form of a spread and as flakes.
What are the health benefits of nutritional yeast?
All the nine essential amino acids present in nutritional yeast make it a good source of complete protein.
Nutritional yeast contains a substance known as free glutamic acid, which enhances the ability of taste buds to taste savory foods.
Nutritional yeast may offer health benefits as a preventive agent against
- Heart disease: The presence of fiber in nutritional yeast helps reduce your blood cholesterol levels. This aids in lowering your risk of heart disease.
- Diabetes: Nutritional yeast has a low glycemic index and it contains an antioxidant called chromium, so it is good for people with diabetes.
- Cancer: Nutritional yeast may have anticancer properties due to the high levels of antioxidant minerals.
- Neurological problems and depression: Vitamin B12 is important for nerve health and cognitive function. It also helps fight off depression.
Are there any risks associated with nutritional yeast consumption?
Nutritional yeast is considered safe for most people, but it may not be good for you if you have any of the following conditions
- Migraines: The tyramine content of nutritional yeast can trigger migraine attacks.
- Allergies: People who have an allergy to baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast may develop an allergy to nutritional yeast as well.
- Crohn’s disease: People with inflammatory conditions of the bowel, such as Crohn’s disease, may develop trouble with their digestion after consuming nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast is also known to interact with certain medications, such as those given to treat depression. If you are planning to include nutritional yeast in your diet, it is advisable to speak with your doctor first.
Medically Reviewed on 11/23/2020
OMRI for the USDA National Organic Program
UMass Medical School
International Archives of Allergy and Immunology