Nutritional yeast : which benefits for our health ?

Nutritional yeast : which benefits for our health ?

John-WesterdahlThe answer with John Westerdahl, nutritionnist.


Why do you like yeast ?
I love nutritional yeast because it adds great flavour as well as nutrition to foods. I have been using nutritional yeast in my diet regularly for the past 15 years. I love its nutty and “cheese-like” flavour. As a nutritionist, and as a vegan vegetarian myself, there are great culinary applications to using nutritional yeast in many recipes.


What are the essential components of yeast ?
Nutritional yeast is a good source of protein and is very low in sodium, while also supplying fiber to the diet. Furthermore, it does not contain cholesterol and saturated fat as often found in animal sources of protein.


How do the vitamins contained in yeast boost our health ?
Nutritional Yeast is an excellent source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These nutrients are essential to help release energy from foods and build healthy cells. Many of the B vitaimins are also essential of a healthy nervous system.


Is yeast an adequate supplement to a vegan diet ?
Nutritional yeast is an excellent food and nutritional supplement for people on a vegan diet. It is particularly rich in Vitamin B12 which is often lacking in vegan diets. I am a vegan myself, and I use it regularly as a seasoning I add to salads, vegetables, pasta dishes and other entrees. I also love to sprinkle it on my air popped popcorn. I also used in as a seasoning ingredient in many of the recipes I make and have included it as an ingredient in recipes I demonstrate in cooking classes and in recipes I develop for books.


What are the benefits of yeast ? Web information suggests that brewer’s yeast helps maintain healthy hair, nails and skin. Is it true ?
Nutritional yeast is nutritionally superior to brewer’s yeast. Nutritional yeast can be called a “beauty food” as its nutrients support the health of the body and tissues including helping to promote healthy hair, skin and nails.


Can anyone take yeast ? Is it safe to take yeast when pregnant ?
Nutritional yeast can be enjoyed as a flavourful food product and seasoning by people of all ages. It can be added to foods not only for increased flavour, but also to boost the nutrition of foods and beverages. Many vegetarians regularly use nutritional yeast in their cooking. It is perfectly safe to be used by pregnant women and even contains nutrients required by women to have healthy pregnancy.


Are there any possible side effects ?
There is really no side effects associated with nutritional yeast. The only side effect could be is if someone is allergic to yeast products.


Is it gluten free ?
Nutritional yeast is a great gluten free food.


What are the advantages of yeast compared with other well-known natural ingredients (e.g. wheat germ) ?
Nutritional yeast is much higher in the B-Complex vitamins compared to wheat germ and other natural food ingredients.


What kinds of dishes best leverage the taste and culinary properties of yeast ?
I find it best added to vegetables and salads and sprinkle on pasta dishes.


John Westerdahl, PhD, MPH, RD, CNS
Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian,  Health Scientist, Board Certified Anti-Aging Health Practitioner
Radio Talk Show Host,  HEALTH & LONGEVITY