Can you eat yeast?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat yeast?” and discuss what are its benefits?

Can you eat yeast?

Yes, you can eat yeast. Since the dawn of time, humans have relied on yeast as an essential part of their food. Bread, beer, and a variety of other foods rely on this fungus for their flavor and texture. 

In the last several years, a form of yeast known as nutritious yeast has become more popular. There are several health advantages to consuming yeast in this form because of its high nutritional content.

Fermented foods are highly significant contributors to our diet. Taking only the most important categories of fermented foods, namely cheese, beer, and bread and rolls, we find the average contribution as a percentage of the RDA (recommended daily allowance of the Food and Drug Administration) to be as follows: Fermented foods contribute 20% of calories, 37% of protein, 50% of calcium, 45% of phosphorus, 13% of iron, 11 % of vitamin A, 17% of vitamin B\, 25% of vitamin Bz, and 16% of niacin (1).

What is nutritious yeast, and how does it differ from regular yeast?

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the yeast that produces nutritional yeast. In addition to baker’s yeast, there is also brewer’s yeast. Despite the fact that the names are commonly used interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast. Both are sources of important nutrients and are commonly found as ingredients in many food items. On the market of some countries, currently, there are some food spreads made of yeast extract, especially bakery or brewery Saccharomyces cerevisiae and food supplements containing brewery or bakery yeast (2).

Nutritional yeast may be grown on several sources, such as blackstrap molasses (whey) and sugar beets (sugar). The heating and drying procedure that leaves nutritional yeast inactive is identical to the yeast that people use in baking. Commercial S. cerevisiae is inactive yeast, meaning dead yeast cells with no leavening power. S. cerevisiae has a “Generally Recognized as Safe” status for food products. It is a cheap and highly available source of protein and amino acids as nutritional yeast biomass or an extract as nitrogen source (2).

For those who are lactose intolerant, nutritional yeast is a good option. For individuals with food allergies or sensitivities, as well as those on restricted diets, it may be a valuable supplement. In addition, it has no sugar or soy in it and is low in fat.


Vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein are all found in nutritional yeast. nutritious yeast typically has the following components in a quarter cup:

  • A calorie intake of 60
  • Serving size of 8 grams of protein
  • Fiber with a density of 3 g per serving
  • 11.85 milligrams (mg) of thiamine, or vitamin B-1
  • 9.70 mg of riboflavin or vitamin B-2 
  • 5.90 mg of vitamin B-6 
  • 17.60 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12 thiamine.

Vitamin B-3, potassium, calcium, and iron are also found in it. There are a number of possible advantages of consuming nutritional yeast:

Enhancing one’s stamina

Nutritional yeast may be fortified with vitamin B-12 by certain producers, but it’s always a good idea to check the label. Vitamin B-12 shortage may lead to exhaustion and weakness, thus it may be beneficial to take this vitamin in order to enhance energy levels (3).

Adding vitamin B-12 to nutritional yeast may be especially beneficial for vegetarians and vegans since this vitamin is found mostly in animal sources. A daily intake of 2.4 mcg of vitamin B-12 is recommended for healthy adults. Nutritious yeast gives more than seven times this amount in a quarter cup of it.

Yeast is a source of vitamin B12, biotin, folic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, and cyanocobalamin, which are present in yeast protein biomass act important catabolic functions as coenzymes involved in carbohydrate, lipids, and protein metabolism (2).

Boosting the body’s natural defenses

The strain of yeast in nutritional yeast, S. cerevisiae, has been found to strengthen the immune system and decrease inflammation caused by bacterial infection, according to studies. Diarrhea may also benefit from the supplement.

Beta-glucan present in yeast may induce an immunomodulatory activity in two ways: (1) It enhances immune reactions (i.e., it exerts a prophylactic effect against common cold infection), and (2) it may reduce inflammation. It is recommended to take beta-glucan up to 375 mg/day as food supplements and up to 600 mg/day as nutritional food (2).

Boosting the health of your skin, hair, and nails.

Nutritional yeast may be able to help those with brittle nails and hair loss, according to certain studies. Acne and other common skin conditions may also be improved by using this product, especially in adolescents. Nutritional yeast contains important vitamins for the maintenance and health of skin, hair and nails, mainly the vitamins of the B-complex, vitamin E, selenium and zinc (2,4).

Increasing glucose tolerance

Despite the belief of some individuals that nutritional yeast increases glucose sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers have not been able to confirm this. A study on chromium-enriched yeast, which is normally brewer’s yeast, discovered that this yeast might reduce fasting blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels in an animal model.

Yeast contains a biologically active form of chromium known as glucose tolerance factor, a trivalent form, which potentiates insulin activity, measured in vitro. However, a systematic review of a randomized controlled trials of glucose tolerance factor supplementation as a factor in improving glycemia among patients with diabetes showed inconclusive results (2).

It’s important to support a healthy pregnancy in this way.

Pregnancy may benefit from the use of nutritional yeast. Pregnant women should take 400–800 mcg of folic acid a day to avoid congenital defects and assist the development of the baby, according to the US Preventive Services Task Force. Folic acid is routinely added to nutritional yeast by manufacturers, making it an excellent prenatal vitamin.

However, since certain kinds of nutritional yeast contain more folic acid than the recommended daily allowance, it is recommended that people seek medical advice before using it as a supplement.

In addition, the brewer’s yeast biomass commonly used in food supplements are widely contaminated with ochratoxin A. Although the level of the contamination is not assessed as high, it may bring an additional load of ochratoxin A to the total intake of mycotoxins from food. Some toxic and carcinogenic substances can arise when most microorganisms undergo sporadic mutations. Therefore, this should not be ignored in the case of the sensitive population such as pregnant women, children, elderly people, and immunocompromised patients (2).

How to utilize it

Flakes or powdered nutritional yeast are two ways to consume nutritional yeast. It has a savory, nutty, or cheesy aroma and taste. People may use it as a savory spice for pasta, veggies, and salads.

  • As an alternative to butter or salt, you may sprinkle nutritional yeast over popcorn.
  • As an ingredient in a vegan macaroni and cheese meal like this one 
  • Using it in place of Parmesan to make a vegan version of a cheese sauce
  • Scrambled eggs, tofu scramble
  • A nut roast or stuffing with it

Nutritional yeast may be purchased in a variety of places, including health food stores and grocery stores, as well as online.

To learn more about eating yeast click here

Other FAQs about Yeast that you may be interested in.

Does Nutritional Yeast Have MSG

What is the best temperature for yeast?

Can you eat nutritional yeast raw?

Can I use nutritional yeast for bread?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat yeast?” and we discussed what are its benefits?


  1. Reed, G., Nagodawithana, T.W. 1991. Baker’s Yeast Production. In: Yeast Technology. Springer, Dordrecht.
  2. Jach, Monika Elżbieta, et al. Yeast Protein as an Easily Accessible Food Source. Metabol, 2022, 12, 63.  
  3. Markun, Stefan, et al. Effects of vitamin B12 supplementation on cognitive function, depressive symptoms, and fatigue: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression. Nutrients, 2021, 13, 923.
  4. Haneke, Eckart, and Robert Baran. Micronutrients for hair and nails. Nutrition for healthy skin. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2010. 149-163.