We always associate yeast to beer and bread making and almost everyone must be aware of bakers yeast that is easily available in all the departmental stores but there is a type of yeast called nutritional yeast that is used as a supplement too. Nutritional yeast has wonderful health benefits and in recent years it has become very popular as veganism has gained in popularity.
It is used as substitute for cheese as it tastes little like cheese and also because it is rich in vitamin B12 which is lacking in vegan diet. There are many varieties of yeast and many cause problems to humans but some are beneficial too. In that small group of beneficial yeasts, S.cerevisiae is the most important. It is the variety used both for making brewing and baking yeast and nutritional yeast is nothing but brewers yeast which is deactivated.
What Is Brewers Yeast?
Yeast are single celled organisms that convert their food through fermentation into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This trait of yeast is what makes it an important ingredient for making beer and bread. Brewers yeast is a type of yeast that belongs to one strain of S. cervisiae.
Why Brewers Yeast Is Beneficial?
All species of S.cerevisiae multiply many times before they die resulting in millions of offsprings. But to do this, yeast requires nutrients and since yeast usually grows on foods that lacks certain nutrients that it requires, it manufactures its own nutrients making it a complete food.
Type Of Brewers Yeast
Brewer yeast is usually got in two ways.
Bred on Grain
When Brewers yeast is got as a byproduct of beer making, it is usually grown on barley and has a bitter and unpalatable taste.
Bred on Beets
When bred on sugar beets, it acquires a slightly sweet nutty flavour. Usually, brewers yeast cultivated as a food supplement (nutritional yeast) is bred on beets and are dried at higher temperatures thus killing the live enzymes resulting in a non leavening yeast that will not ferment at all.
Brewers Yeast Vs Bread Yeast Vs Nutritional Yeast
Both brewers yeast and bakers yeast belong to the same species S.cerevisiae but they are of different strains. Bakers yeast strain is more aggressive which is the reason bread doughs airs up in a short amount of time whereas brewing yeast strain is more slower but it can withstand high alcohol concentrations.
Nutritional yeast is nothing but deactivated brewers yeast. Nutritional yeast tastes nice and has a nutty cheesy flavor as opposed to brewers yeast which has a bitter taste. This is due to the difference in the medium it is grown on. Nutritional yeast also has additional flavourings added to it to make it more palatable. Nutritional yeast is usually fortified with vitamins, mainly vitamin B12.
Brewers Yeast History
Brewers yeast is believed to be originated from the skin of grapes. When these naturally occurring yeasts accidently got mixed up with drinks and flour, it resulted in a very tasty product. So overtime, people learnt to select and cultivate the strains that would work best on the food that is commonly found in their region.
Nutritional Yeast (Brewers Yeast) Nutritional Benefits
Brewers yeast is rich in vitamin B, especially biotin, folic acid, pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid and thiamine. Depending on how it is grown, it can also be an excellent source of vitamin B12. So vegans whose diet is generally lacking in vitamin B12 will greatly benefit including nutritional yeast in their diet regularly.
Brewers yeast is also an excellent source of high quality protein. In fact 2 tbsp of brewers yeast contains around 7 gram of protein! Brewers yeast is also rich in iron, 2 tablespoons of brewers yeast contains around 1 mg of iron and the same amount of brewers yeast contains around 60 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates.
The nutritional value of yeast may vary depending on how it is grown. Depending upon the way in which brewers yeast was grown, it can also be an excellent source of many minerals like copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium and chromium.
Nutritional Yeast Health Benefits
1. Lowers Triglyceride Levels
Brewers yeast helps lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. In a study, 11 people with normal lipid levels and 16 people with high lipid levels were given 20 grams of high chromium brewers yeast for about eight weeks and after 8 weeks, a significant decrease in total cholesterol was observed. This is due to the high amounts of chromium and niacin present in brewers yeast.
2. Improve Blood Pressure Levels
A randomised double-blind clinical trial was done on 90 adults with type 2 diabetes. They were divided into two groups, one group were given 1800 mg of brewers yeast and another group received placebo. After 12 weeks, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were decreased in the group receiving brewer’s yeast.
3. Improves Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetic patients also will benefit including brewers yeast in their diet regularly. Chromium present in Brewer’s yeast is particularly helpful for diabetic patients. A study was done on 84 type 2 diabetic patients who were given 1800 mg of brewers yeast and placebo for a period of eight weeks. The study proved without any doubt that the group receiving brewers yeast reduces blood sugar levels in a significant way.
4. Protects The Liver
Brewers yeast is also an excellent source of selenium and selenium is essential for protecting the liver from free radicals. Consuming selenium enriched brewers yeast is particularly helpful for protecting against liver cancer.
5. Excellent Source Of Protein
Brewers yeast is a good source of high quality protein as it contains all essential amino acids, just 2 tbsps of brewers yeast contains 8 grams of protein! It is also rich in lysine, vegetarians and vegans will especially benefit including it in their diet regularly.
6. Contains Vitamin B12
Vegans mainly lack vitamin B12 in the diet and brewers yeast is a good supplement for them because when grown in the presence of vitamin B12, it provides the required amount of most of the B vitamins including vitamin B12.
7. A Good Probiotic
Brewers yeast is a good probiotic and when consumed regularly, improves our gut health and protects the gut from harmful bacteria. It has been proven to be effective against pathogens like Escherichia Coli, Vibrio Cholera, Clostridium Sifficile and Salmonella. This is due to the pH changes due to yeast growth, production of high concentration of ethanol and secretion of antimicrobial compounds that helps get rid of the pathogens. It also helps reduce inflammation of the stomach.
8. Prevents Diarrhoea
Since it preserves our gut health, it prevents diarrhoea associated with consuming antibiotics. Travellers diarrhoea which many travellers experience especially when traveling to different countries and diarrhoea associated with tube feeding can also be prevented by consuming brewers yeast.
9. Good For Skin:
Brewers Yeast is widely used in cosmetics as it helps improve skin conditions. In a study, formulation containing saccharomyces cerevisiae was applied on few volunteers and they all were tested later, the test results showed improved skin moisture and skin brightness levels. Another interesting use of brewers yeast is treating acne, in a study almost 75% of the patients experienced improvement after using cream containing yeast.
10. Treats Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, vitamin K and amino acids are very important for preventing and treating fatigue syndrome. In a clinical study, a nutritional supplement containing brewers yeast as a base was given to patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and all the patients experienced marked improvement.
Buying and Storing Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is sold as a powder, flakes and also as tablets. In India, regular bakers yeast is available in almost all the departmental stores. Nutritional yeast is not common but we can order it online easily.
If you are buying to consume as a nutritional supplement, check the nutrients present in the product as it varies from brand to brand. Since the medium in which it was grown is very important, try to choose organic nutritional yeast.
Nowadays we get non fortified nutritional yeast that is 100 % food based without any synthetic vitamins added to it, they are expensive but well worth the price. After buying, store it in an airtight box in a dark place, it should last well for 6 to 8 months. We can also store it in the refrigerator for almost 3 years.
How To Use?
Nutritional yeast can be added to all continental dishes as it has a cheesy flavour. I like to add it to soups and pasta sauce. You can also add it to popcorn and it will taste almost like cheese popcorn. We can also add it to salad dressings too.
Nutritional Yeast (Brewers Yeast) Side Effects
It can interact with blood pressure and diabetic medications. Since it is rich in purine, people who are prone to getting kidney stones and who have gout should avoid brewer’s yeast. People who are allergic to candida and yeast may not react well to consuming brewers yeast.
Brewers yeast can be made with gluten or it can be gluten free, people with celiac disease should only consume brewers yeast without gluten. Though brewers yeast is used for treating skin problems, some people might be allergic to it.