5 Health Benefits Associated with Drinking Beer
For all of you who like to drink beer, here’s some good news: the heady brew has some health benefits, including those noted in a newly published study. Although this statement is not an invitation to begin drinking beer or to drink more of it if you already imbibe, the following explanation may give you and your friends a new perspective on the beverage.
What are the health benefits of beer?
Why don’t you grab a glass of your favorite beverage and take a look at these scientifically researched advantages associated with drinking beer. If your beverage of choice contains alcohol, remember to drink responsibly.
May help your heart. Two studies are worth mentioning regarding the effect of beer on the heart and cardiovascular health. The first is a new study appearing in Nutrition.
The researchers evaluated the effects of drinking a moderate amount of beer (400 mL, or 13.5 oz plus 400 mL water), dealcoholized beer (800 mL, contained the same amount of polyphenols as in 400 mL of beer), or 3.67 milliliters of vodka (same amount of alcohol as in 400 mL of beer) on various factors that can predict cardiovascular risk (e.g., endothelial function, aortic stiffness, aortic pressure, pressure wave reflections).
Seventeen healthy, non-smoking males participated in the study. All of the men consumed each of the three options at least one week apart.
The researchers found that endothelial function was significantly better after beer only, and that pressure wave reflections improved the most after the men drank beer compared with the other two options. Aortic stiffness and aortic pressure improved in a similar manner after all three options.
The authors concluded that “beer acutely improves parameters of arterial function and structure in healthy non-smokers.” They attributed these benefits to the presence or “synergistic effects of alcohol and antioxidants.”
In the second study, a team of Italian researchers reviewed data from more than 200,000 people and found that regular, moderate consumption of beer was associated with a 31 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease when compared with non-drinkers.
May help diabetes. Beer may be helpful for diabetes in at least two ways. Both possibilities involve molecules in hops (Humulus lupulus) called humulones and isohumulones.
In animal studies and in patients with type 2 diabetes, scientists found that isohumulones significantly reduced blood glucose levels and hemoglobin A1c levels. The authors concluded that “isohumulones can improve insulin sensitivity in high fat diet-fed mice with insulin resistance and in patients with type 2 diabetes.”
Other investigators have studied how hops behave in the beer making process, which in turn has provided information that can be used to develop new treatments for diabetes.
May improve creativity. Experiencing writer’s block? Having difficulty starting a project because you lack fresh ideas? Drinking a moderate amount of beer may improve your creative spirit.
Researchers at the University of Illinois came to this conclusion after administering brain teasers to 40 young men: 20 did the test sober and 20 did the teasers after consuming two pints of beer. The beer-drinking men solved the problems faster and were more likely to have “ah-ha” moments than their sober peers.
May help prevent prostate cancer. Once again, hops are the reason for this potential benefit of drinking beer. Hops contain numerous ingredients, and one is xanthohumol, which has been shown to prompt the death of cancer cells and to hinder the growth of cells that cause an enlarged prostate.
May support strong bones. Both men and women need to be concerned about their bone health as they get older, as osteoporosis can affect all adults. One important substance that supports strong bones is silicon, a mineral present in significant levels in beer.
In a study conducted at the University of California, Davis, researchers analyzed 100 commercial beers for their silicon content. They found that silicon levels ranged from about 6.4 to 56.6 milligrams per liter, and that beers with the greatest amounts of hops and malted barley also contained the highest levels of silicon.
Anyone who consumes alcohol should do so responsibly, which means following the 3 Ms: moderation (for beer, no more than two 12-ounce servings for men and one serving for women per day), medication (drugs and alcohol generally don’t mix), and motor vehicles (don’t drink and drive). If beer is on your bar tab, you may enjoy some health benefits with each frosty mug.
Casey TR and Bamforth CW. Silicon in beer and brewing. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2010 Apr 15; 90(5): 784-88
Costanzo S et al. Wine, beer or spirit drinking in relation to fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Epidemiology 2011 Nov; 26(11): 833-50
Jarosz AF et al. Uncorking the muse: alcohol intoxication facilitates creative problem solving.Consciousness and Cognition 2012 Mar; 21(1): 487-93
Karatzi K et al. Acute effects of beer on endothelial function and hemodynamics: a single-blind, crossover study in healthy volunteers. Nutrition 2013 Sep; 29(9): 1122-26
Yajima H et al. Isohumulones, bitter acids derived from hops, activate both peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha and gamma and reduce insulin resistance. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2004 Aug 5; 279(32): 33456-62