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Nutritional Yeast: Benefits and Side Effects

Yeast has been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years. It is a fungus and is a vital ingredient in bread, bear, and numerous other foods.

Nutritional yeast is a specific type of yeast which people have started consuming in recent years.

Nutritional yeast comes from a species of yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is used as a food product for cooking cheesy, nutty or savor the flavour.

Nutritional yeast is of two types:

  1. Unfortified: This yeast does not contain any added vitamins or minerals. It only has those minerals which are produced naturally by the yeast.
  2. Fortified: During the manufacturing process of fortified nutritional yeast, synthetic vitamins are added to boost the nutrient content.

Why is Nutritional Yeast Healthy?

Why is Nutritional Yeast Healthy?

Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein, vitamin B, and minerals.

The nutritional content of nutritional yeast is:

  • Protein: All nine essential amino acids are present in nutritional yeast. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 2 grams of protein, making it an easy way for the vegans to add high-quality protein to the diet.
  • Vitamin B: Nutritional yeast contains enough B nutrients to reach the daily intake requirement.
  • Trace Minerals: Trace minerals like zinc, selenium, manganese, and molybdenum are also present in sufficient quantities in nutritional yeast.

The nutritional value may vary with brands. Always look for fortified varieties to add extra vitamins and minerals to the diet.

Health Benefits Of Nutritional Yeast

Some are:

Benefits of Nutritional Yeast in Boosting Energy

Most of the nutritional yeast is fortified with vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 helps boost energy and its deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness.

Nutritional yeast is a way for vegans and vegetarians to add vitamin B12 in their diet, as this vitamin occurs in animal products.

An adult needs 2.4mcg of vitamin B12 per day, which means one-quarter of a cup of nutritional yeast, provides seven times this amount.(1)

Benefits of Nutritional Yeast in Boosting Immunity

S.cerevisiae is a strain of yeast which can support the immune system and reduces inflammations which result from bacterial infections.

It is also helpful in treating diarrhea. Nutritional yeast contains alpha-mannan and beta-glucan carbohydrates that can reduce the frequency of infections, caused by E.coli and Salmonella.(2) These carbohydrates are known to boost immunity.

Promotes Skin, Nail, and Hair Health

Nutritional yeast may help combat brittle nails and hair loss. It also reduces acne and improves other skin conditions.

Cholesterol Lowering Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

The beta-glucan, present in yeast helps lower the cholesterol level.

A study conducted on men with high cholesterol levels found, those who consumed 15 grams of beta-glucan derived from yeast for eight weeks, had lowered their cholesterol level by 6 %.(3)

Improves Glucose Sensitivity

Though it is believed that nutritional yeast improves glucose sensitivity in type 2 diabetics, research is yet to be done on the same.

Supports Healthy Pregnancy

According to the United States Preventive Task Force, the recommended amount of folic acid for pregnant women is 400-800 mcg, to prevent congenital abnormalities and support fetus growth.

Nutritional yeast can be fortified with folic acid, which can make it a useful supplement for pregnant women.

Side Effects Of Nutritional Yeast

While nutritional yeast is a valuable addition to the diet, it also has a few side effects associated with its use.

Trigger Headache Or Migraine Attacks

Nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12 and zinc, few products such as tyramine may trigger a migraine attack in some individuals.(5)

Tyramine is a compound derived from amino acid tyrosine and is found naturally in nutritional yeast.(4)

Facial Flushing

Nutritional yeast contains niacin, a vitamin that is involved in vital processes in the body such as metabolism and enzyme function.(6)

Consuming niacin in large quantities may lead to facial flushing.(7)

Yeast Intolerance And Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Yeast may trigger an immune response in some people suffering from IBD, some studies suggest, it may worsen the symptoms in some.(8, 9)

Although nutritional yeast is mostly safe for many, a few individuals can be sensitive to it too. Also, it can cause discomfort if consumed in large doses.

It is suggested to introduce it slowly into the diet in lower doses to avoid unwanted side effects.

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 27, 2019

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