Superfood Spotlight: Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional Yeast is yeast grown on Sugar Beet Molasses, Cane Sugar, and/or Corn Sugar with the express intent of providing a host of nutrients as a food supplement.
Nutritional Yeast isn’t to be confused with Brewer’s Yeast, which is the yeast leftover from the production of alcohol. Brewer’s Yeast has long been used as a food supplement for it’s B vitamin content, going back to ancient times as a “superfood” eaten for health (supposedly), but contains only a fraction of the B vitamins in Nutritional Yeast, as much of it is lost to the liquid during fermentation.
Nutritional Yeast is very high in B vitamins such as Thiamine (B1), Pantothenic Acid (B5), and Pyridoxine (B6). It is also high in Selenium, Chromium, and Molybdenum, which are essential to health, and have been found to have many benefits. Selenium is important for the conversion of T4 to the active T3. Chromium has been found to improve Diabetes, glucose control, and insulin production.
An important note is that you want to purchase Nutritional Yeast without synthetic B vitamins – especially B12 – added, that maintains it’s natural state.
There are only two brands that I know of that provide this, being Sari Foods & Foods Alive.
Below are the nutritional facts for Sari Foods and Foods Alive Nutritional Yeast, respectively.
Note not only the high B vitamin content, but the mineral content as well, especially of Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc, Chromium, and Molybdenum. The high Iron content might be a caveat for some, but Copper – such as from liver – helps to prevent displacement of Iron into cells.
Dr. Ray Peat has discussed how his father cured his Diabetes by consuming large amounts of Brewer’s Yeast, which contains many B vitamins, but not as much as Nutritional Yeast.
The Pancreas holds the highest concentration of Thiamine in the body, cementing it’s role in the health and performance of the Pancreas, and the production of Insulin.
Ray Peat has also noted that Brewer’s Yeast can be irritating to the gut, and has suggested a hot water extract to extract the B vitamins from the yeast without the yeast compounds that might cause gut irritation.
To make a hot water extract, pour hot water into a cup with Nutritional Yeast, stir, and let sit until cooled. You can watch as the contents separate into water soluble and sediment on the bottom. A ratio of about 250ml / 2-4tbs of Nutritional Yeast works well, as an idea of how much water to pour in. When I drink more than one throughout the day, I like to leave the extracted yeast in the cup, to give it another extraction to really make sure I get all the nutrients I can out of it. I don’t find issues with drinking or eating it whole, despite having a sensitive gut.
The hot water extract might avoid the potential estrogen as explained below.
Estrogen In Yeast & Yeast Products – A Potential Caveat?
Yeast – or at least Brewer’s Yeast – has been discussed as being estrogenic, and containing estrogenic compounds.
Beer is notorious for being estrogenic purportedly, but I’ve yet to find any studies or reading on this. Beer is apparently high in phytoestrogens, as Hops are very high in such, but other sources say the amount is too low. Beer, Ale, and other alcoholic beverages were the choice of hydration for centuries as clean water was scarce.
That being said, we are discussing Estrogen in yeast.
One old study looked at the estrogen and estrogenic activity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and found concentrations of ~800ng/1.5kg of 17 Beta-Estradiol (bio-identical).
I’m not keen on the various strains of yeast, so I’m not sure if this applies across the board, however a quick read notes this strain as a primary strain in brewing and baking.
For Comparison, Notoriously Estrogenic Foods Are As Follows:
- Flax: 379,380mcg of phytoestrogen(s) / 100g
- Soy: 103,920mcg of phytoestrogen(s) / 100g
- Black Beans: 5330mcg of phytoestrogen(s) / 100g
- Hummus (from Chickpeas): 993mcg of phytoestrogen(s) / 100g
It’s important to note that bio-identical estrogen is stronger than phytoestrogens, however the difference in amount is fairly staggering. Soy and Flax have been found to cause infertility in various rodents.
At around 15-16g per serving – according to these two nutritional charts – a daily serving of nutritional yeast would contain ~8ng of estrogen.
One study on healthy males found an average range of 2-5.5ng/dl of estradiol, and another estimate puts it at 1-4ng/dl. One estimate puts the amount of blood in the average adult as 4.5-5.5 gallons, or 45-55 deciliters. According to these numbers, a total amount of circulating estradiol would (could?) be 45-302.5ng. Estraduio is not the only estrogen in the body, and these numbers only apply to Estradiol, so the actual number of Estrogen is higher, and thus the relative effect of estrogen in yeast is lower.
Please correct me if my math is wrong, I can make mistakes.