Nutritional yeast benefits

Science-backed benefits of Nutritional Yeast

There are three types of dried dietary yeasts available – Brewer’s, Baker’s and Nutritional yeasts, all from a strain of non-pathogenic yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 
Nutritional yeast is a ‘deactivated’ yeast from the strain Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is called ‘Nutritional’ yeast because it contains naturally occurring B vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2, B5 and B6, and some minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and selenium. It also provides all the essential amino acids making it a good source of protein.Brewer’s yeast is another dried and deactivated form of yeast which was originally a byproduct of beer brewing. Brewer’s yeast is bitter so not as popularly used as nutritional yeast. Baker’s yeast is active yeast used for baking bread. While also nutritious, it is said that baker’s yeast can deplete the body of nutrients and B vitamins.

Nutritional yeast is sometimes fortified to make it richer in vitamins, and minerals. Vegans consume nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute and also to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, although B12 isn’t naturally present in nutritional yeast. It is one of the vitamins that is added to fortified nutritional yeast along with folic acid. Nutritional yeast has a cheesy and a nutty flavour, making it a popular cheese substitute, not just among vegans.

Nutritional yeast is available in granule, flake or powder form and usually sold in the baking or spices and condiments section in grocery and health food stores. 

Nutritional yeast is made by growing yeast in a medium such as sugarcane or molasses. The yeast is then “deactivated” by heating and drying and is finally packaged.

Nutritional Yeast Nutrition facts:

Nutritional yeast Nutrition facts for Popular brands

Bob’s Red Mill15gCalories – 60, Sodium – 25mg, Fibre – 3g, Protein – 8g, Thiamine – 910%, Riboflavin – 610%, Niacin – 200%, Vitamin B6 – 330%, Folate – 490%, Vitamin B12 – 880% RDAYN/A
Bragg5gCalories – 20, Sodium – 0mg, Fibre – 1g, Protein – 3g, Iron – 2%, Thiamine – 180%, Riboflavin – 160%, Niacin – 70%, Pyridoxine – 140%, Folic acid – 40%, Vitamin – B12 – 40%, Pantothenic acid – 30%, Zinc – 6%, Selenium – 10% RDAYNON-GMO
NOW Foods9gCalories – 35, Sodium – 0mg, Fibre – 2g, Protein – 5g, Iron – 2%, Potassium – 4%, Thiamin – 500%, Riboflavin – 460%, Niacin – 200%, Vitamin B6 – 350%, Folate – 170%, Vitamin B12 – 580% RDAYN/A
Frontier16gCalories – 60, Sodium – 5mg, Fibre – 3g, Protein – 7g, Calcium – 2%, Iron – 4%, Thiamin – 30%, Riboflavin – 370%, Niacin – 30%, Vitamin B6 – 25%, Folic acid – 60%, Bitoin – 2%, Pantothenic acid – 15% RDANOrganic, Non-GMO
Foods Alive15gCalories – 60, Sodium – 70mg, Fibre – 4g, Protein – 8g, Calcium – 2%, Iron – 40%, Potassium – 8%, Thiamin – 200%, Riboflavin – 6%, Niacin – 90%, Vitamin B6 – 600%, Biotin – 50%, Pantothenic acid – 700%, Phosphorus – 15%, Magnesium – 45%, Zinc – 270%, Selenium – 40%, Copper – 130%, Manganese – 40%, Chromium – 15%, Molybdenum – 130% RDANNON-GMO
Table *source – company websites

Uses of Nutritional yeast –

1. Nutritional yeast is used as a nutritional supplement due to its impressive nutrient profile for people and pets alike.

2. As a cheese substitute due to its cheesy, nutty and umami flavour. 

3. As a seasoning on popcorn or chips.

4. Sprinkled over scrambled eggs, salad, soup, roasted vegetables, etc. 

5. As a thickener for soups and gravies. 

Nutritional yeast benefits
Nutritional yeast benefits

Benefits of Nutritional yeast and why you should be using Nutritional yeast:

1. Nutritional yeast is a highly nutritious form of yeast which contains several B vitamins, trace minerals and all essential amino acids (making it a complete source of protein).  B vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2, B5 and B6, and some minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium and selenium and all essential amino acids are naturally present in Nutritional yeast. When it is fortified, it contains Vitamins B12 and folic acid as well. 
2. Complete and sustainable source of protein. Nutritional yeast is a complete protein source providing all the essential amino acids that our body cannot make. One 15g serving provides about 8g of protein.

3. Nutritional yeasts are also low fat and low sodium, making them a good nutritional supplement for people of all ages.

4. Nutritional yeast has essential antioxidants such as selenomethionine and glutathione which help prevent cell damage from oxidative stress caused by heavy metals, environmental toxins and free radicals. 

5. Immune function – Yeast may improve immune function. Yeast is a source of immune-modulating  β-glucans. β-glucans have effective cholesterol-lowering, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. A study found that yeast-derived  β-glucans helped protect against URTIs (Upper Respiratory Tract Infections) and reduced the duration of URTIs in infected older individuals.

6. Cholesterol-lowering – β-glucans are polysaccharides naturally occurring in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi and cereals such as oats. The β-glucans in yeast were found to help lower cholesterol in studies conducted on mice. A study conducted on obese men with high blood cholesterol who were given yeast-derived β-glucan fibre were found to have significantly lower total cholesterol levels at the end of the study period.

Nutritional yeast benefits
Nutritional yeast benefits

Are there any side effects to using Nutritional yeast? 

There are three main ‘issues’ with dietary yeast (which includes nutritional, baker’s and brewer’s yeast):

  1. Yeast intolerance – People with crohn’s disease should avoid yeasts of any kind as yeast seems to worsen their symptoms.
  2. GMO (genetically modified organisms) beet – Most dietary yeast is grown on sugarcane or beet. Unfortunately, almost 100% of sugar beet grown in the USA and Canada is now Genetically Modified or contaminated with GMO. These crops are genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup (a glyphosate-based herbicide). GMO crops are linked to many environmental and health problems. It is, therefore, prudent to use nutritional yeasts from companies that are non-GMO verified. 
  3. Glutamate – Yeast contains naturally occurring glutamic acid and some people are sensitive to it. While glutamic acid is an amino acid naturally present in many foods, it behaves very differently from Monosodium Glutamate or MSG, which is the isolated sodium salt of glutamic acid. However, people sensitive to glutamate may want to avoid nutritional yeast as well.

To summarize, Nutritional yeast offers lots of benefits and a few side effects (in susceptible people). For the vast majority, nutritional yeast is a delicious and healthy addition to the diet. 

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