What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of the yeast strain known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is cultivated with other nutrients in large vats of molasses and water. After the yeast is washed and dried, the end result is tiny yellow flakes that have a nutty, cheesy flavor!
Nutritional Yeast Nutrition Facts
There are two types of nutritional yeast: fortified and unfortified. Unfortified nutritional yeast does not contain any added vitamins or minerals. It only contains the nutrients that are naturally produced by the yeast. However, we will be analyzing Bragg’s nutritional yeast, which is a popular brand of fortified nutritional yeast.
At just two tablespoons, one serving of nutritional yeast packs in five grams of protein and two grams of dietary fiber. One serving also takes care of 6% of your daily required iron. Lastly, Bragg’s nutritional yeast is fortified with large doses of thiamin (vitamin b1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), niacin (vitamin b3), vitamin b6 and vitamin b12.
Health Benefits of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast
1. Prevents Vitamin b12 Deficiency
Vitamin b12 is one of the most important vitamins in the human body. Not only does it help to create DNA and red blood cells, vitamin b12 can prevent anemia, neuropsychiatric disorders, and nerve damage (1).
Because vitamin b12 is not readily available in the majority of plant foods, many people believe that only vegetarians or vegans need to worry about getting enough of it. However, according to a study of 2,999 men and women between the ages of 26-83, 39% of people, meat eaters included, are low in vitamin b12 (2).
For that reason, the easiest way to ensure you are getting enough b12 is to take a supplement or eat a fortified food. For example, just 1.5 teaspoons of Bragg’s nutritional yeast provides 157% of your daily value of vitamin b12!
2. Improved Mental Health
Folic acid is an important B vitamin that plays a role in cell reproduction and DNA replication. Low levels of folic acid are linked to weakness, fatigue, and even depression (3).
In a study of over 2,000 middle aged men from Finland, participants with a low folic acid intake were 3x as likely to be diagnosed with depressive disorder than those with a high intake (4).
While insufficient folic acid intake does not definitively cause depression, it can’t hurt to make sure we are eating enough of it every day. Here’s the good news — one serving of Bragg’s nutritional yeast provides 212 mcg of folic acid, which is 90% of your daily value.
3. Improved Immune System
Bragg’s nutritional yeast contains a soluble fiber known as beta-glucan. Found in the cell walls of yeast, beta glucan has been shown in over 6,000 studies to “exhibit immunostimulating properties” (5). Researchers conclude that beta-glucan acts to counteract the negative effects of stress on our immune system (6).
4. Reduced Levels of Cholesterol
In addition to protecting us from the common cold, beta-glucan may also affect our cardiovascular system. In 2018, three authors published a review of the scientific literature assessing the relationship between beta-glucan and cholesterol in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.
They concluded that “of all forms of dietary fiber, natural β-glucan molecules are the most promising to use as a method of treating patients with dyslipidemia,” or elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood (7).
Statin drugs, which are designed to lower our cholesterol levels, come with a host of side effects, including headache, fatigue, and muscle weakness. On the other hand, Bragg's nutritional yeast is perfectly safe for almost everyone, except for people who are sensitive to yeast, such as those with Crohn's disease (8). While statins can certainly help lower our cholesterol levels, Bragg’s nutritional yeast represents a cheap, tasty, and healthy way to treat patients with dyslipidemia.
5. Increased Muscle Mass
Bragg’s nutritional yeast contains five grams of protein per serving. It also contains a high level of each of the essential amino acids, which are crucial for building muscle. While the average person eating a variety of whole foods will get plenty of protein, building muscle requires more protein consumption. For weight lifters and body builders, adding a serving of nutritional yeast to your meal is an easy way to increase your protein intake and help you put on more muscle.
Nutritional Yeast Recipe Ideas
Cooking with Bragg’s nutritional yeast is very simple! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Sprinkle it on top of popcorn for a cheesy, savory taste.
- Sprinkle it on avocado or hummus toast.
- Add to your favorite soups for a cheesy flavor and a nutritional boost.
- Add it to your pasta sauce for a cheesier taste and a thicker texture.
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1. Su, T., Torng, P., Jeng, J., Chen, M., & Liau, C. (2011). Arterial function of carotid and brachial arteries in postmenopausal vegetarians. Retrieved April 02, 2020
2. Tucker, K., Rich, S., Rosenberg, I., Jacques, P., Dallal, G., Wilson, P., & Selhub, J. (2000, February). Plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations relate to intake source in the Framingham Offspring study. Retrieved April 02, 2020
3. Gilbody, S., Lightfoot, T., & Sheldon, T. (2007, July). Is low folate a risk factor for depression? A meta-analysis and exploration of heterogeneity. Retrieved April 02, 2020, from
4. Tolmunen, T., Hintikka, J., Ruusunen, A., Voutilainen, S., Tanskanen, A., Valkonen, V., . . . Salonen, J. (2004). Dietary folate and the risk of depression in Finnish middle-aged men. A prospective follow-up study. Retrieved April 02, 2020
5. β1,3-Glucan: Silver Bullet or Hot Air? - Bentham Open. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2020
6. Talbott, S., & Talbott, J. (2012, August). Baker's yeast beta-glucan supplement reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state in stressed women. Retrieved April 02, 2020
7. Sima, P., Vannucci, L., & Vetvicka, V. (2018, April). β-glucans and cholesterol (Review). Retrieved April 02, 2020
8. WRIGHT, R., & TRUELOVE, S. (1965, July 17). A CONTROLLED THERAPEUTIC TRIAL OF VARIOUS DIETS IN ULCERATIVE COLITIS. Retrieved April 02, 2020