Nutritional Yeast Benefits: A Go-to for Protein, B12 & More

Top view of rich golden nutritional yeast in a bowl and spoon on a rustic board.
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Nutritional yeast benefits are huge, and especially if you’re vegan. It’s a go-to for vitamins, minerals, plant-based protein, and more.

If you haven’t been adding nutritional yeast to your food yet, what are you waiting for? Studies have clearly shown that nutritional yeast rocks. In fact ‘nooch,’ or vegan yeastit’s called bothis one of the fastest, easiest, and tastiest ways to boost foods.  

I’ve been using it for decades and here’s why:    

It has all nine of the essential amino acids, so complete protein. It rocks fiber, so there’s a win. It’s also a rich source of B vitamins, including B12, and when it comes to antioxidants, tons onboard. Think glutathione, selenium, selenomethionine, just to name a few.

And its flavor is top-notch. It adds a rich cheesy taste to varieties of foods like popcorn, salads, pastas, pizza, homemade soups, and more.  

It’s also widely available at health food stores, Thrive Market, online retail outlets, and on Amazon here.

Image of Anthony's Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

What Is Nutritional Yeast?  

Rustic teakwood bowl and spoonful of nutritional yeast on a rustic board.
Nutritional yeast boosts heart-health, gut-health, brain-health, the immune system.

Nutritional yeast is a popular food additive made from saccharomyces cerevisiae, a species of yeast that’s been around for centuries.

It’s grown on sugar beets and other mediums, then heated, dried, and processed into flakes.

It comes in powders, granules, and boasts whole slews of essential nutrients, including zinc, selenium, B vitamins, and in fortified yeast, B12.

Nutritional Yeast Benefits

Bowl and overflowing spoonful of nutritional yeast on a planked rustic board.
Vegan yeast is a sustainable and ethical source of protein.

Nutritional yeast is packed with benefits. It can offset pathogens and the common cold. A tablespoon a day promotes restful sleep, curbs respiratory infections, and can significantly boost mood.

It also improves cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and bolsters immunity.

What’s In Nutritional Yeast?

  • Complete protein.
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins & minerals.
  • Probiotics.
  • Prebiotics.
  • Glutathione.
  • Beta glucan.
  • Biotin.
  • Potassium.
  • Chromium.
  • Folate.
  • Copper.
  • Choline.
  • Magnesium.
  • Molybdenum.
  • Phosphorous.
  • Calcium.
  • Iron.
  • Dietary fiber.
Close-up of nutritional yeast flakes spilling out of a large mason jar.
Nooch boosts metabolism.

Vegan yeast contains zinc — a key mineral for metabolism — and choline, which improves liver and muscle-health.

It also fights fatigue, inflammation, oxidative stress, and boosts white blood cell count and post-workout recovery.

One report found that “athletes who consumed yeast products with beta-glucan experienced less post-workout fatigue and better moods than those who didn’t.”  

Dr. Michael Greger notes that “Runners given the equivalent of about a spoonful of nutritional yeast each day for four weeks after a race appeared to have just half the rates of upper respiratory infection compared to runners consuming a placebo.”

Beta Glucan In Yeast

Studies show that the beta glucan in baker’s, brewer’s, and nutritional yeast can boost the immune system and reduce symptoms of the common cold.

It “may offer the best of both worlds,” says Greger, “boosting the infection fighting side of the immune system while suppressing inflammatory components.”

Nutritional Yeast Health Benefits      

  • Fights oxidative stress.
  • Regulates blood sugar.
  • Reduces high blood pressure.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Improves circulation.
  • Supports heart-health.
  • Boosts gut-health.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Offsets obesity and diabetes.
  • Mitigates stress and mood.
  • Reduces food cravings.
  • Improves metabolism.
  • Promotes restful sleep.
  • Curbs nutrient-deficiency.
  • Helps prevent anemia.
  • Nourishes hair, skin, and nails.
  • Reduces microbes and pathogens.

On a side note, studies show that feeding nutritional yeast to your pets can substantially reduce fleas.

I’ve been feeding it to my cats since they were kittens, along with broccoli, carrots, greens, grains, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, rice, and other plant foods. 💚 🌱 🐾

Jiminy's Nooch Puffs Dog Treats 4.2 oz bag

How to Store Nutritional Yeast

Rows of mason jars in a pantry display nutritional yeast and scores of herbs.
Store nutritional yeast in a cool, dark, dry place.

Nutritional yeast can last for up to two years in a tightly sealed container in a cool dry place.

I keep mine in a large glass jar in the pantry, and it goes fast. 

What’s the Best Nutritional Yeast? tested yeast brands for lead (and transparency), and here is their go-to:

Bob’s Red Mill  – Test report shows no detectable lead (<0.01 ppm).

Bragg – Test report shows no detectable lead (< 0.01 ppm).

Dr. Fuhrman –  Test report shows no detectable lead (< 0.01 ppm).

Frontier Coop – Test report shows lead levels at 0.021 ppm. It would take six tablespoons a day (based on the manufacture’s listed density) to exceed the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) for chemicals causing reproductive toxicity.*

KAL – Test report shows lead levels at 0.011 ppm. It would take seven tablespoons a day to exceed the MADL.*

NOW Foods – Test report shows no detectable lead (< 0.01 ppm).

Red Star – Test report shows no detectable lead (< 0.01 ppm).

Whole Foods – Test report shows lead levels at 0.012 ppm. It would take six tablespoons a day to exceed the MADL.*

It’s also noted that two tablespoons a day is “well within safe limits” for most people.

How Much Protein Is In Nutritional Yeast?

The fortified nutritional yeast I use has eight grams of protein per two tablespoon serving. I polish at least that much a day.

How to Use Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is great in soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, casseroles, popcorn, pastas, and more. It has a rich savory taste and subs for cheese, nuts, meats, and thickens gravies.

It’s also a more sustainable and ethical form of protein, says Simon Fellous, an evolutionary biologist. 

Can you Heat Nutritional Yeast? 

Many foods lose vital nutrients when exposed to heat, and nutritional yeast is no exception. To retain the most nutrients eat it raw or under 100 degrees. I always add it to soups, but not until the end when it’s cooled down.

Nutritional Yeast Side Effects

I’ve personally never experienced side effects from copious amounts of nutritional yeast, and neither have my friends, family, pets, or anyone I know. If anything it’s helped keep us healthy and strong across the years. 

However, according to reports, if you have certain autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, you shouldn’t use it. In addition, folks with “gout, uric acid kidney stones, and new organ transplant recipients may want to keep their intake to less than a teaspoon a day,” says Dr. Michael Greger.

Reports of headaches, flushing, and yeast intolerance are somewhat rare. Consult your physician if contraindications may apply.

To learn more about nutritional yeast and the common cold, check out Dr. Greger’s video here.

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The medical and health topics covered on the Plate of Grass website and blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to prevent or cure any disease. This article and its content is presented ‘as is’ for informational purposes only.