Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

The seasoning contains important nutrients like folate, niacin, protein, and more.

Nutritional yeast is a flake or powder product made from yeast grown using sugar and can be a staple for plant-based diets or cooking.

As the name suggests, nutritional yeast comes with a wealth of nutrients such as B vitamins and protein. This nutritious, vegan, and gluten-free product adds flavor, color, and "cheesiness" to various dishes without the need for dairy.

You've also probably seen a slew of recipes that call for nutritional yeast—like cashew cheese, cauliflower mash, kale chips, and vegan pesto. If you're unfamiliar with nutritional yeast, find out how it can be good for you and the different ways to use it.

Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has a few potential health benefits.

Helps Contribute to B Vitamin Intake

While non-fortified nutritional yeast exists, fortified nutritional yeast is the most commonly used form and contains added nutrients. One study explained that nutritional yeast is a complete protein and a good source of B vitamins, such as B12.

Those who consume a vegan diet eat no animal products, which are a good source of protein and B vitamins, especially B12. Nutritional yeast can help ensure those who are vegan get enough protein and vitamin B12 in their diets.

Promotes Gut Health

In addition to its high-quality protein and B vitamins, the fiber in nutritional yeast promotes gut health. Eating enough fiber—between 21 grams and 38 grams for adults—helps digestion and reduces constipation.

Contains Beta-Glucan

The seasoning contains beta-glucan, a specific type of fiber that supports immunity and bone density, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure and potentially lowers cancer risk.

Beta-glucan may specifically help support immunity through two mechanisms. The first mechanism is enhanced immune reactions, and the second is reduced inflammation.

Nutrition of Nutritional Yeast

Exact nutrient levels vary from brand to brand, but a two-tablespoon serving of the popular Bragg nutritional yeast provides:

  • Calories: 40 calories
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 20 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams

Nutritional yeast also provides antioxidants and smaller amounts of key minerals vital to overall health. For example, it has significant amounts of energy-supporting B vitamins. These amounts are:

  • Over 90% of the daily target for folate
  • Over 200% for niacin
  • More than 400% for both vitamin B6 and riboflavin
  • Over 500% for thiamin
  • More than 600% for vitamin B12

Nutritional yeast is an important source of vitamin B12 for people who follow a completely plant-based diet, as this nutrient isn't found in whole, unprocessed plant foods.

Nutritional yeast also contains several trace minerals. These trace minerals include calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, sodium, and zinc.

The seasoning also contains a mineral known as glucose tolerance factor (GTF). GTF is a biologically active form of selenium and may play a role in blood sugar control in those with diabetes—however, the data are inconclusive.

Risks of Nutritional Yeast

Because of nutritional yeast's fiber content, it may be best not to pile on too much of the seasoning in one sitting. Eating too much fiber at once can lead to digestive upsets, like gas and bloating or diarrhea. So if you are enjoying other high-fiber foods and nutritional yeast, consider gradually introducing the seasoning to foods and keep an eye on how much you consume.

Tips for Consuming Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty, umami flavor that some people compare to Parmesan. If you want to try this nutritional powerhouse, you'll be happy to know how versatile it can be.

You can sprinkle it onto popcorn, salads, cooked veggies, and baked potatoes or blend it into smoothies. You can also use it in sauces, soups, salad dressings, homemade crackers, biscuits, and desserts like vegan cheesecake.

Other ideas include blending it with cashews and spices to create a sauce for homemade macaroni and cheese. Substituting it for Parmesan on top of a bowl of pasta with pesto is another option. Nutritional yeast can also serve as a savory topping on a warm bowl of butternut squash soup.

A Quick Review

A type of seasoning, nutritional yeast contains nutrients like folate, vitamin B12, and fiber. Some of its potential health benefits are digestive and immune system support. Because nutritional yeast has fiber, it's a good idea not to eat a lot in a short period to avoid digestive issues like bloating. Also, the product is versatile and can be used as a seasoning or as an ingredient in foods like soups, desserts, and salad dressings.

Was this page helpful?
Sources uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jach ME, Serefko A, Ziaja M, Kieliszek M. Yeast protein as an easily accessible food source. Metabolites. 2022;12(1):63. doi:10.3390/metabo12010063

  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Food sources of 5 important nutrients for vegetarians.

  3. MedlinePlus. Fiber.

  4. Bashir KM, Choi JS. Clinical and physiological perspectives of β-glucans: the past, present, and future. IJMS. 2017;18(9):1906. doi:10.3390/ijms18091906

  5. U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. Nutritional yeast.

  6. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12 - fact sheet for consumers.

Related Articles