Brewer’s yeast is the ingredient we use for brewing beer and cider and in some cases for making bread. The yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae which is a unicellular (one celled) fungus.
As well as being a critical fermentation aid it is also a nutritional supplement. One of its main benefits is being a rich source of chromium and B vitamins.
Chromium is good for those of us managing our blood glucose levels by improving tolerance and is known to benefit people with type 2 diabetes.
It is generally used too for maintaining hair and skin, the eyes and mouth. It is also thought to support the nervous system and enhance the immune system.
It is also a probiotic and often added too as a flavouring to snacks. Pringles® for example contains small amounts of yeast powder which is a very dry form of brewer’s yeast.
Brewers yeast is very similar to nutritional yeast, it’s just a difference in the way it is produced (Steensels et al., 2014).
Source of vitamins:
- thiamine (B1)
- riboflavin (B2)
- niacin (B3)
- pantothenic acid (B5)
- pyridoxine (B6)
- biotin (B7)
- folic acid (B9)
Yeast also contains beta-glucan and is a good source of dietary fibre although it does not have the same efficacy as oat beta-glucan.
Yeast is available in powders, flakes and as a thick viscous liquid. Batches of the product often vary in quality and flavour.
Flavour: bitter and highly distinctive. The flavour is also distinctive for extracts.
Some versions have been debittered which may remove some of the critical minerals although they may still claim a source of B vitamins.
All are generally suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Chromium supplementation has long been known for control of blood glucose and lipids especially in type 2 diabetic patients (Bahijiri et al., 2000).
Medical practitioners recommend brewers yeast as a supplement for those wishing to improve their vitamin intake. There are potential side effects with particular medication.
Some conditions are exacerbated by incorporation of brewer’s yeast in the diet such as Crohn’s disease, suffering with yeast infections, yeast allergy and compromised immune systems.
Bahijiri, S. M., Mira, S. A., Mufti, A. M., & Ajabnoor, M. A. (2000). The effects of inorganic chromium and brewer’s yeast supplementation on glucose tolerance, serum lipids and drug dosage in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Saudi medical journal, 21(9), 831-837 (Article)
Steensels, J., Snoek, T., Meersman, E., Picca Nicolino, M., Voordeckers, K., & Verstrepen, K. J. (2014). Improving industrial yeast strains: exploiting natural and artificial diversity. FEMS microbiology reviews, 38(5), pp. 947–995. (Article)