Is Marmite good for you? The surprising health benefits of the savoury spread

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  • The iconic slogan might say love it or hate it, but studies have shown that for the most part, we’re a nation of Marmite lovers.

    We spread the sticky stuff on bread, slather it on crumpets, team it with cheese in toasties and even, if we’re feeling particularly adventurous, pop it on our potatoes or stir it into a sauce.

    But is it all about that salty flavour, or does the savoury spread actually have any health benefits?

    Here, we investigate the billion dollar question ‘is Marmite good for you?’, and actually found some pretty surprising (and positive!) results.

    Something tells us you might want to have a knife (or a dipping finger!) handy…

    It boosts your brain power

    In 2017, researchers at York University conducted a study with two groups – one who ate a teaspoon of Marmite per day, and one who ate the equivalent amount of peanut butter – and found that the high concentration of Vitamin B12 in Marmite could help to improve healthy brain function and even potentially protect against neurological disorders.

    Anika Smith, one of the authors of the research, said of the findings: ‘This is a really promising first example of how dietary interventions can alter cortical processes and a great starting point for exploring whether a more refined version of this technique could have some medical or therapeutic applications in the future.’

    It’s full of vitamins

    The same study also found that Marmite contains 116 times more B12 – which makes red blood cells and protects the nervous system – than peanut butter, but it’s vitamin-giving powers don’t stop there.

    Marmite is also rich in vitamins B1, B2, and B3, and provides nearly 50% of your recommended daily allowance of folic acid (or vitamin B9) per serving. B vitamins help you to convert your food into fuel, stabilising your energy levels, whilst folic acid also helps your body to produce and maintain new cells, which is why a supplement is often recommended during conception and pregnancy.

    It’s low in calories

    Per recommended 8g portion of Marmite, there’s only 22 calories and less than 0.5g of fat, which as toast-topper options go is actually pretty virtuous – and theoretically, because the flavour is so strong, you’ll only use it sparingly. It’s also vegetarian, in case you were wondering.

    Marmite was actually created accidentally, after it emerged as a by-product of the beer brewing process, but much of its appeal comes from the simplicity of its ingredients, which include extracts of yeast, vegetables, spices and celery.

    It helps you sleep

    Back in 2016, Lisa Artis, a spokesperson for The Sleep Council, recommended a banana, lettuce and Marmite sandwich (no, really!) as one of the best things to eat if you want to fix your sleep problems.

    ‘The Romans thought that lettuce was good for sleep,’ she explained. ‘But the crème-de-la-crème ‘sleep sandwich’ has to be a banana, Marmite and lettuce butty. Banana is an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax over-stressed muscles. They also contain all-important tryptophan to stimulate production of those key brain-calming hormones – and Marmite also contains natural substances that help induce sleep.’

    It can (apparently!) cure a hangover

    It’s up to you whether you give this one a try, but it’s been reported that Marmite is actually a key ingredient in a popular hangover remedy in Sri Lanka.

    The paste is used as the base of a drink, to which hot water, lime juice and fried sliced onion are added, and those who’ve given it a go supposedly swear by its healing properties. Think you can face that strong, savoury flavour after a big night? Let us know how you get on…