Believe it or not, beer can actually be very healthy–in moderation, that is. And, for those of you who don’t want or like to drink it, those benefits aren’t limited to you just drinking beer. You can use it in cooking, too, and still reap the benefits. With that said, here are ten surprising health benefits of beer.
10. It’s Very Nutritious
In fact, it’s more nutritious than other alcoholic beverages–including wine, which has vitamin B, protein, and tons of antioxidants. But, guess what? So does beer! In fact, the levels of vitamin B and protein in beer are higher than those found in wine. And, even though the antioxidants found in hops and barley are not the same as those found in grapes, they’re still antioxidants nonetheless, so it’s still very nutritious. Plus, beer also contains calcium, iron, fiber, and phosphates!
9. It Strengthens Your Heart
According to Harvard University, moderate drinking is good for the heart and circulatory system. Studies have suggested that drinking beer reduces your risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death and death from all cardiovascular causes by anywhere from 25 to 40 percent. And, get this: A preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2016 found that men who had already suffered a heart attack were 42 percent less likely to die of heart disease when they consumed moderate amounts of beer.
According to the university, “the idea that moderate drinking protects against cardiovascular disease makes sense biologically and scientifically. Moderate amounts of alcohol raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol), and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease.” Which brings us to our next point…
8. It Lowers “Bad” Cholesterol
You know that fiber we mentioned earlier? That’s the part of the beer that can help lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) levels. That’s because increasing your intake of soluble fiber promotes healthy blood-cholesterol levels. But, you can get soluble fiber from other sources, so this doesn’t prove that beer can lower bad cholesterol, right? Wrong! A 2016 study presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions looked at 80,000 healthy Chinese adults and found that moderate beer consumption was linked to a slower decrease in good, or HDL, cholesterol over time.
7. It Can Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Did you know that if you drink 3 to 4 beers a week, you’re less likely than those who never drink to develop diabetes? Yep, it’s true. That’s according to a study published in the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. And, men, listen up! Those of you who enjoy one to six beers a week can also enjoy a 21 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than men who don’t drink at all! Sounds great, doesn’t it? Ironically, all the studies done show a correlation between the two, but no one has yet to figure out why that correlation exists.
6. It Can Prevent Kidney Stones
According to a recent study, drinking a moderate amount of beer reduces your risk of developing kidney stones by a whopping 41 percent! That’s with EACH BOTTLE consumed per day. The reason why is because the hops contained in beer are rich in kidney health-promoting phytochemicals, according to the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Now, don’t go getting carried away just because we said each bottle you consume can help prevent kidney stones. Heavy drinking can negatively affect your health.
Psst! Harvard University says that moderate drinking probably can protect against gallstones, too.
5. It Can Reduce Your Risk of Developing Cancer
According to German researchers, the xanthohumol in beer hops can block excessive testosterone, thereby reducing the chances that men will develop prostate cancer. As a result, the researchers have been studying the potential for xanthohumol to be used as a cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, studies show that consuming just one drink a day increases the risk of developing alcohol-related cancers in women, breast cancer in particular, but also colorectal, liver, pharynx, larynx, oral, and esophageal cancers. In fact, a combined analysis of six large prospective studies involving more than 320,000 women found that those who had 2-5 drinks a day had a 41 percent greater chance of developing breast cancer than those who didn’t drink at all.
4. It Cleans Your Teeth
Forget about going to the dentist. Reach for a cold one, instead!
According to a study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, drinking beer helps keep bacteria from forming and growing on your teeth. The study was conducted using beer extracts from the Guinness brand. And, what the researchers found is that even the weakest beer extract blocked the activity of bacteria that form biofilms and promote tooth decay and gum disease.
Oh, and by the way, we were just kidding about that ‘not going to the dentist’ thing. 🙂
3. It May Reduce Inflammation
Reducing inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, can decrease your risk of developing many kinds of diseases, including heart disease, stroke, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, reducing inflammation may be as simple as reaching for your favorite alcoholic beverage. According to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, the hops found in beer has anti-inflammatory properties. According to NBC News, “the researchers compared the anti-inflammatory effect of different hops and found that the consumption of hops in beer form interfered with inflammation causing compounds.”
2. It Boosts Bone Health
Got Beer? That’s the next marketing tagline for the folks at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners–well, at least it should be anyway. That’s because studies have shown that the high amount of dietary silicon (a.k.a. orthosilicic acid or OSA) found in beer, darker ales in particular, contribute to bone and connective-tissue health–so much so that the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture says that moderate intake helps fight osteoporosis!
In one study, moderate drinkers were 38 percent less likely than non-drinkers to have osteoporosis. In another study, moderate drinkers were 20 percent less likely than non-drinkers to be at risk for hip fractures.
1. It Can Improve Cognitive Function
According to researchers, having two glasses of beer a day can help reduce oxidative stress, work-related stress and anxiety. As a result, beer can also help improve your memory, boost your brain power, and guard against the onset of cognitive disorders like Parkinson’s disease and dementia. For example, a study using middle-aged subjects showed that increasing levels of alcohol consumption were associated with better brain function. And, researchers at Loyola University found that moderate drinkers are 23 percent less likely than non-drinkers to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, how exactly does beer do this? Well, the ingredient xanthohumol, which we mentioned earlier, is a flavonoid that slows down cognitive decline.
While this is positive news, it’s also important to note that using alcohol to cope with mental stress is more harmful than anything else and can lead to other cognitive issues like depression and anxiety.
Now you see that beer isn’t all bad. The key to it not being bad is drinking it in moderation. So, go ahead and throw back a few cold ones. Your body will thank you.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out these interesting historical facts about beer. Thanks for reading, and cheers!