Toasting to the holidays? Some studies show that moderate beer consumption may have health benefits. Here are eight reasons why.
1. Beer is more nutritious than other alcoholic beverages.
We often hear about the abundance of antioxidants in wine, but beer also contains a similar amount. The specific antioxidants in beer come from barley and hops, which are different from those in grapes. Nonetheless, antioxidants are beneficial for our health. In addition, beer is higher in protein and vitamin B compared to wine. Moreover, beer contains essential minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphates, and even fiber. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
2. Beer can help protect your heart.
Studies suggest that moderate beer drinking* may reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or heart disease compared to non-drinkers. In fact, research comparing the health benefits of wine, beer, and spirits indicates 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 potentially lower your risk of developing kidney stones. According to a recent study, both men and women who reported consuming a moderate amount* of beer reduced their risk of developing kidney stones by 41 percent. Beers that contain a high level of hops, such as pale ales, are rich in phytochemicals that promote kidney health. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
4. Beer lowers bad cholesterol.
The soluble fiber in beer can help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Increasing your intake of soluble fiber has various health benefits, including promoting healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, it’s important to note that alcohol can interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals, as well as hinder 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 contribute to stronger bones. The soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), a type of dietary silicon, is important for bone and connective tissue growth and development and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by bone thinning. National Institutes of Health
6. Beer helps reduce stress.
Researchers have found that consuming two glasses of beer per day can reduce work-related stress or anxiety. However, relying on alcohol regularly to cope with stress can have negative consequences. While alcohol may provide temporary stress reduction, it can ultimately contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, making stress more difficult to manage. American Journal of Psychiatry
7. Beer may help improve memory.
Hops contain a secret ingredient called xanthohumol, which can potentially enhance cognitive function. It is a flavonoid that helps slow down the memory degradation process. This chemical could protect brain cells from oxidative damage associated with dementia. (Important note: The dosage used in the study was much higher than what a human could consume through beer. Research is still in the early stages.) Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry
8. Beer helps cognitive function.
In middle-aged subjects, increased alcohol consumption is associated with better cognitive function. However, these findings do not suggest encouraging higher alcohol consumption. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to improve cognitive function. American Journal of Epidemiology
* Moderate drinking = one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men
What you should know
Physicians generally do not endorse the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption due to concerns that heavy drinkers may interpret any message as permission to drink excessively. It is important to consult your doctor regarding your personal health history and drinking patterns.
Heavy drinking is linked to cirrhosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, hypertension, malnutrition, pancreatitis, and increased cancer risks.