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 include increased energy and immunity, among other purported benefits.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 2 tablespoons (56g) of nutritional yeast.

  • Calories: 30
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 4g

Nutritional yeast also contains other important nutrients including essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Carbs in Nutritional Yeast

A 2-tablespoon serving of nutritional yeast contains 3 grams of carbohydrates, half of which is fiber. A trace amount of sugar is found naturally in nutritional yeast.

Fats in Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast contains very little fat and may vary by brand. A 2-tablespoon serving provides just half a gram of fat, which is about 5 calories from fat. The small amount of fat is polyunsaturated fat, which is considered a heart-healthy fat. 

Protein in Nutritional Yeast

Unlike most plant-based products, nutritional yeast is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. A 2-tablespoon serving of nutritional yeast contains 4 grams of protein, making it a good way to boost the protein content of meals and snacks for vegans and other people looking to get more protein.

Micronutrients in Nutritional Yeast

In addition to its balanced macronutrient ratio, nutritional yeast boasts an impressive assortment of vitamins and minerals, although most brands are fortified to provide additional nutrients.

Nutritional yeast contains many of the B vitamins, with 2 tablespoons of 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 B6, and vitamin B12.

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

Consult your doctor before using nutritional yeast—or any product—as a supplement during pregnancy, and never use nutritional yeast as a replacement for your prenatal vitamin.

Health Benefits

Boosts Energy

Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to weakness and fatigue and is common in people who do not eat animal products. (B12 is only found naturally in animal protein, fish, seafood, and dairy.) It also becomes more common as we age.

When you don’t have enough B12, 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 B12 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.

Supports Healthy Pregnancy

Nutritional yeast that is fortified with folic acid can support a healthy pregnancy. Getting adequate folic acid prior to pregnancy and in early pregnancy can reduce the risk of serious birth defects. In addition, some research suggests low blood levels of folate during pregnancy may be associated with pre-term labor.  

Nutritional yeast should not be taken as a substitute for prenatal vitamins. 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 found in nutritional yeast can protect your cells from free-radical 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 may also help support the systems in your body that are in charge of eliminating toxins. 

Common Questions

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

All three of these yeasts are made from different strains of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae fungus. 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 yeasts don’t provide as much value as nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast contains many B vitamins, zinc, and selenium. It is typically fortified with niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and B12. Brands that are fortified will list the added nutrients in the ingredient list. 

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 B12, whereas unfortified nutritional yeast does not.

Can I eat nutritional yeast every day?

Yes. Unlike brewer's yeast, nutritional yeast is inactive and unlikely to cause any side effects. However, like any new food that you haven't tried before, you might want to start with a small amount to see if you experience digestive discomfort, such as bloating or other side effects.  

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. The research found raw active yeast to be more problematic than cooked inactive yeast. Nutritional yeast is inactive and unlike to cause digestive problems.

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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