Surprise! Beer Actually Has Some Health Benefits

( – Most of you have probably heard about the health benefits of red wine, but rarely, if ever, about the plus-sides to drinking beer. It’s true. Brews may actually be good for you when consumed in very moderate amounts.

Of course that doesn’t mean that if one beer is good, three or four must be better. That isn’t true. Drinking more than one beer or any alcoholic beverage per day can put too much alcohol in your system and that isn’t good for you. Heavy drinking has been associated with several health problems, so moderation is definitely the key with drinking beer. The studies also point to one beer per day as being beneficial, not drinking all seven beers in one day per week. That type of binge drinking will overload you system with alcohol too.

Part of a Healthy Diet

Drinking one beer per day may be good for your health because it has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Beer is made from grains, water and yeast. Grains commonly used are barley and wheat (with cheaper, mass-produced beers relying on corn and rice), both of which are loaded with a variety of vitamins that survive the fermentation and filtering process. And the vitamin value of the yeast is conserved in the hundreds of unfiltered beers that are on the market — both on tap and in bottles.

We don’t tend to think much about the nutritional aspects of beer, but according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one 12-ounce serving of regular beer has the following nutrients:

•    Calories: 153
•    Protein: 1.64 g
•    Carbohydrates: 12.64 g
•    Calcium: 14 mg
•    Magnesium: 21 mg
•    Phosphorus: 50 mg
•    Potassium: 96 mg
•    Sodium: 14 mg
•    Zinc: 0.04 mg
•    Thiamin: 0.018 mg
•    Riboflavin: 0.089 mg
•    Niacin: 1.826 mg
•    Pantothenic Acid: 0.146 mg
•    Vitamin B6: 0.164 mg

Beer is actually a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and niacin.

Need more reasons to chug down a beer? Look no further…

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

According to several studies, including one done at the Institute of Epidemiology at the University of Muenster, moderate beer drinking reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. The reasons are simple: Alcohol can increase HDL—or “good” cholesterol—levels and reduces the chances of hardening of the arteries and thickening of the blood—two main contributors to heart attacks.

Drink Your Vitamins

Years ago, Guinness used the slogan “Guinness is Good for You.” It looks like they might have been right. According to a Dutch study conducted at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, beer drinkers had 30% higher levels of vitamin B6 in their blood than non-beer-drinkers—twice the amount of red-wine drinkers.

Avoid Kidney Stones

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, risk of kidney stones was decreased 40% in middle-aged beer-drinking men, as compared to non-beer-drinkers. While the researchers couldn’t determine which component of the beverage was responsible for the drop, the evidence of benefit was impressive.

Help Women Age Better

A Harvard study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed moderate alcohol consumption assisted in preserving the mental faculties of older women, while a Tufts University study concluded alcohol can help preserve bone density, a frequent health issue for aging females. Additionally, some bioflavonoids found in hops (a major ingredient in beer) have similar properties as oestrogens, which may serve as a natural form of hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women.

Prevent Cancer

While research is just beginning to explore the potential cancer-fighting agents in beer, early studies show xanthohumol, a compound found in hops, may help inhibit certain enzymes that can trigger cancer and aid the body in breaking down carcinogens. The compound is current being tested in hopes of creating a preventative treatment for prostate and colon cancers.

Drinking Too Much

While drinking one beer per day may improve your health, heavy drinking will not. In fact heavy drinking has the opposite effect. Heavy drinking is defined as more than 21 drinks per week for women and more than 35 drinks per week for men. Drinking heavily leads to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, pancreatic diseases, severe thiamin deficiency and some cancers.

Who Shouldn’t Drink Beer?

Beer drinking isn’t for every one. Some people have personal or religious reasons for not drinking beer or other alcoholic drinks. That’s OK. All of the health benefits of beer can be found in other foods beverages.

The following people should not drink beer, or should speak with their doctor before drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages:

•    Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not drink beer. Even small amounts of alcohol can damage a developing fetus.
•    People with alcoholism or drug addictions should not drink beer.
•    Young people. In the United States the drinking age is 21, in Canada the drinking age is 18 or 19. Other countries vary.
•    People with liver, pancreatic diseases, or really, any type of chronic disease should speak with their doctor.
•    People with gout should avoid beer. Gout is very painful and is triggered by alcohol.
•    Diabetics should speak with their doctor.
•    People taking any type of medications should speak with their doctor. This includes over-the-counter medications.

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