Nutritional Yeast Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

 

From beer and wine to bread and chocolate (yes, chocolate!), yeast has long held an integral role in the human diet. This fungus — usually a strain of the species Saccharomyces — contributes to many of our favorite foods and beverages.

Now, it’s thought that a particular type of this fungus can contribute to our overall well-being. Nutritional yeast’s claims to fame include increased energy, immune support, and hair and nail health, among other benefits.

Nutrition Facts

Nutritional Yeast Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 tbsp
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 452%
Calories from Fat 5 
Total Fat 0.5g1%
Saturated Fat 0.0g 
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 5mg0%
Potassium 0mg0%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Dietary Fiber 4g16%
Sugars 1g 
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 4%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

 

Nutritional yeast contains an impressive amount of fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals in just a small two tablespoon serving.

Carbs in Nutritional Yeast

Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains five grams of carbohydrates — four from fiber and one from sugar. The sugar in nutritional yeast occurs naturally, as it’s a plant product with simple carbohydrates. However, products vary by brand. If you’re concerned about added sugar, be sure to check the ingredients label.

Fats in Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast contains very little fat: Two tablespoons provide just half a gram of fat, or about five calories from fat. Because the total fat count is so low, any amount of saturated or trans fat you may consume from nutritional yeast is insignificant.

Protein in Nutritional Yeast

Unlike most plant-based products, nutritional yeast is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids.

Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contains 8 grams of protein, making it a great option for vegans to get the protein they need.

Micronutrients in Nutritional Yeast

In addition to its healthy macronutrient ratio, nutritional yeast boasts an impressive count of vitamins and minerals. Nutritional yeast contains many of the B vitamins, with two tablespoon of the yeast boasting up to 180 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for B vitamins. The percentage depends on the brand, but fortified nutritional yeast is usually rich in thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12.

Nutritional yeast also contains trace minerals, including zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese and sodium. Trace minerals are essential for many processes and functions, including metabolism and gene regulation.

Health Benefits

Boosts Energy

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is linked to weakness and fatigue, and it’s common in people who do not eat animal products (B-12 is only found naturally in animal protein, fish, seafood and dairy).

When you don’t have enough B-12, your body can’t produce enough red blood cells to supply itself with oxygen, which can make you feel tired and weak. Fortified nutritional yeast can help you avoid B-12 deficiency and keep your energy levels up.

Supports Immune System

Research shows that the strain of Saccharomyces used to make nutritional yeast can support your immune system and reduce inflammation in your body.

Promotes Strong Hair, Skin, and Nails

Some research suggests that yeast supplements can keep your hair, skin and nails strong and keep them from becoming dry or brittle.

Supports Healthy Pregnancy

Some brands of nutritional yeast can support a healthy pregnancy if they are fortified with folic acid, which is essential to a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Just be sure to consult your doctor before using nutritional yeast — or any product — as a supplement during pregnancy.

May Help Lower Cholesterol

Nutritional yeast contains a substance called beta-glucan, a type of sugar found in the cell walls of plants, bacteria and fungi. Beta-glucans are often used as medications for high cholesterol, and research shows that people who consume beta-glucan from yeast showed lower cholesterol levels. 

Contains Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect your cells from damage and defend against chronic diseases and cancer. The antioxidants found in nutritional yeast, glutathione and selenomethionine, protect your body from free-radical and heavy metal damage. They also help your body eliminate toxins.

Common Questions

How is nutritional yeast different from baker’s or brewer’s yeast?

All three of these yeasts are made from strains of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae fungus, but each from different strains of that species. Brewer's yeast is used to make wines and beers, while baker's yeast leavens bread.

Brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast contain live cultures, while nutritional yeast does not. Nutritional yeast is deactivated with heat before it’s packaged and used as a food product.

Nutritionally, brewer’s and baker’s yeast don’t provide as much value as nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast contains a great deal of niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium and thiamine, and it’s usually fortified with vitamin B-12. Nutritional yeast also contains more essential amino acids.

Is nutritional yeast vegan?

Yes, nutritional yeast contains no animal products or byproducts, but you should check the label to make sure it isn’t manufactured in a factory where cross-contamination could occur.

What’s the difference between fortified and unfortified nutritional yeast?

Fortified nutritional yeast contains extra vitamins that do not naturally occur in the yeast, particularly vitamin B-12, whereas unfortified nutritional yeast does not.

Is nutritional yeast good for weight loss?

Nutritional yeast itself cannot induce weight loss, but it can help you feel satiated and energized because of its ample fiber and vitamins, which may contribute to your weight-loss efforts.

Can I eat nutritional yeast every day?

Yes, but be wary of some potential side effects. If you introduce too much to your diet too quickly, you may experience digestive discomfort, including bloating, cramping or diarrhea. 

Recipe and Preparation Tips

You’ll find nutritional yeast as flakes or a powder. Most people describe the taste as savory, nutty or even cheesy, so you’ll have the best luck using it with savory dishes such as pasta, roasted meats, vegetables, and salads. 

Try these fun ways to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet:

  • Sprinkle it onto popcorn
  • Use it in pasta in place of Parmesan cheese
  • Make a vegan alternative to a cheese sauce
  • Stir it into soup
  • Add it to your scrambled eggs
  • Sprinkle it on top of garlic bread

Allergies and Interactions

It’s relatively uncommon, but some people may experience yeast intolerances. Some research shows that people with pre-existing digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, may be sensitive to dietary yeast.

Additionally, people who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of antidepressant, should avoid yeast supplements. Nutritional yeast can contain high levels of tyramine, an amino acid that could potentially react with MAOIs.

It’s common and sensible to think that those struggling with Candida overgrowth may also want to avoid nutritional yeast, but because nutritional yeast isn’t live, it doesn’t pose the risk of contributing to fungal overgrowth.

You should always check for cross-contamination if you’re allergic to other foods or ingredients, especially nuts, soy, gluten, and eggs.

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