7 Science-Backed Reasons to Have a Beer
Since ancient times, people have attributed a variety of health benefits to drinking wine and beer, often without any scientific basis.
Let me rephrase that, because there was some quasi-scientific observation happening, like the fact that villagers who drank beer lived longer than those who drank, say, the local river water that was often contaminated with human and animal feces…
But concrete, scientific-method proven evidence that beer was good for you?
We had to scour the internet, but we found them – 7 science-backed reasons to go ahead and have a pint.
Beer is chock full of vitamins.
Beer is a source of B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and folate, and actually packs more calcium, magnesium, and selenium than wine.
As with most things, the nutrition content will vary depending on the type of beer and how it’s made. Craft and small batch brews will tend to have more nutrients (the result of more nutritious ingredients) than mass produced products, and dark brews are higher in both fiber and iron.
Beer, beer, it’s good for your heart
It’s pretty much common knowledge that a glass of red wine is good for your heart, but beer?
A meta-analysis of 100 studies by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that drinking alcohol, that’s wine and beer, in moderation (operative phrase) is beneficial to your heart and cardiovascular system. Some particularly eye-catching studies include:
- A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found consuming alcohol, including beer, in moderation raises good cholesterol, and appears to have a favorable effect on the lining of blood vessels, making them less likely to form a clot or for a clot to rupture and plug an artery.
- A Kaiser Permanente study found that, of 123,840 men and women, moderate drinkers had a lower risk of coronary artery disease, occlusive stroke and nonspecific cardiovascular syndromes, than those who had quit drinking or abstained from drinking their entire lives.
- One eye-opening Italian study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, found that people who drank a pint of beer daily had a 31% reduced chance of heart disease.
All those cardiovascular benefits have another positive effect – several studies by the American Stroke Association have shown that moderate beer drinkers cut down their risk of strokes by up to 50% compared with non-drinkers.
Beer has cancer-fighting compounds
That’s right! It’s called xanthohumol, a natural antioxidant compound found in hops that blocks the effects of testosterone and therefore, according to the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, can protect against prostate cancer.
It’s also thought to reduce the chances of breast cancer in women, though, at the time I’m writing this, this link has not been thoroughly researched.
Beer can lower your risk of diabetes
The alcohol content in beer increases insulin sensitivity. When Canadian researchers analyzed 20 different studies on health and drinking habits, they found that moderate alcohol consumption is protective for type 2 diabetes in men and women.
However, if you are already managing diabetes, you do need to be careful about how much beer you consume, and what kind. Everyone is different, and while most people can handle one serving of alcohol, some people shouldn’t drink at all to avoid spikes or dips in blood sugar. Always consult your doctor with any concerns you may have.
Beer is also known to decrease the chances of developing kidney stones
A Finnish study singled out beer among other alcoholic beverages, finding that it was better for your kidneys. In fact, each bottle of beer you drink reduces the risk of developing kidney stones by 40%.
However, it is important to remember that beer and other alcoholic beverages also contain purines, which may increase the risk for the less common uric acid stones in susceptible people.
Compounds in hops may protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
Remember xanthohumol? Well, in addition to the antioxidant and anticancer benefits, xanthohumol may slow the development of neurodegenerative diseases, according to one Chinese study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
And they’re not alone – researchers at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine performed a meta-analysis of 143 different studies and came to the conclusion that moderate beer drinkers were 23% less likely to develop different forms of dementia and cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s.
Beer is an excellent source of bioavailable silicon, and element which has been shown to increase bone mineral density and improve bone strength.
Researchers at Tufts University give evidence that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol (wine as well as beer) is related to greater bone density in men and women over 60.
On top of that, the silicon in beer is easier for our bodies to absorb. According to a study analysis in Natural Medicine Journal, 64% of the silicon found in alcohol-free beer is absorbed, while only 4% of the same compound in bananas is absorbed. Plus, certain compounds in hops may help slow the release of calcium from bones, keeping them healthy.