The health benefits of beer
Toasting to the holidays? Some studies show that beer consumed in moderation may be beneficial to your health. Here are eight reasons why.
1. Beer is more nutritious than other alcoholic drinks.
We hear a lot about the abundance of antioxidants in wine, but beer has just as many. The specific antioxidants are different because the flavonoids in barley and hops are different from those in grapes, but antioxidants are a good thing. Beer is also higher than wine in protein and vitamin B. Even better, beer contains iron, calcium, phosphates and even fiber. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
2. Beer can help protect your heart.
Studies suggest moderate beer drinking* may make you less likely than those who don’t drink to suffer from hearts attacks, strokes or heart disease. In fact, studies evaluating the relative benefits of wine versus beer versus spirits suggest that moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. New England Journal of Medicine
3. Beer helps prevent kidney stones.
Drinking beer could help reduce your risk of developing kidney stones. According to a recent study, men and women who reported drinking a moderate amount* of beer reduced their risk of developing a stone by 41 percent. Beers that contain a lot of hops — for example, pale ales — are rich in kidney health-promoting phytochemicals. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
4. Beer lowers bad cholesterol.
The soluble fiber in beer can help reduce your LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Increasing your intake of soluble fiber has numerous health benefits, including the promotion of healthy blood-sugar and blood-cholesterol levels. However, because alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, it can also lessen the body’s ability to burn stored fat. American Heart Association: Circulation
5. Beer strengthens your bones.
Due to its high silicon content, beer may help to build stronger bones. Dietary silicon in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA) may be important for the growth and development of bone and connective tissue and help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease. National Institutes of Health
6. Beer helps reduce stress.
Researchers found that two glasses of beer a day can reduce work-related stress or anxiety. However, routinely turning to alcohol to help cope with stress may do more harm than good. While alcohol may help with stress reduction in the moment, in the long run it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, making stress harder to deal with. American Journal of Psychiatry
7. Beer may help improve memory.
Hops has a secret ingredient that can help improve cognitive function – Xanthohumol. It’s a flavonoid that helps slow down the degradation process of memory. The chemical could help protect brain cells from oxidative damage associated with dementia. (Important note: The dosage used in the study was much higher than a human could possibly consume via beer. Research is still in early stages.)Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
8. Beer helps cognitive function.
In middle-aged subjects, increasing levels of alcohol consumption were associated with better function. These findings do not suggest we encourage increased alcohol consumption, but moderate alcohol consumption* has been proven to increase cognitive function. American Journal of Epidemiology
* Moderate drinking = one drink/day for women and two drinks/day for men
What you should know
- The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption have not been generally endorsed by physicians for fear that heavy consumers may consider any message as a permissive license to drink in excess. Talk to your doctor about your personal health history and individual consumption patterns.
- Heavy drinking is linked to cirrhosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, hypertension, malnutrition and pancreatitis. It also increases cancer risks.