If you’re toasting to health, reach for beer

In honour of the recent Octoberfest celebrations in Germany, we've decided to round up all the health benefits of beer. We wouldn't recommend any alcohol as a health food, but if you're planning on having an alcoholic drink, it may as well be one that contains iron, calcium, phosphates and fibre.

Thanks to the strong association between beer and the so-called beer belly, the drink has gotten a reputation for being fattening or unhealthy, but that is simply not true.

Consider this: Beer is fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in carbohydrates—a 340-mL bottle of beer with 5 percent alcohol has 5 g of carbohydrates, while a pear with the skin on has 26 g.  Now we’re not saying you should trade your fruits and veggies in for a steady diet of ale, but enjoying beer in moderation can actually be a healthier beverage choice than soda or sugary fruit cocktails.

Beer can be nutritious

Beer is made from hops, barley and wheat, so the beverage contains many of the same nutrients that grains do, including B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin and zinc. A bottle of beer can contain 92 mg of potassium, 14 mg of calcium and 48 mg of phosphorus, all minerals that are essential to a healthy diet.

Vitamins that come from the malt are from the 6B1, 2B, B, and H groups. These nourish the nervous system, enable high concentration levels, help to build red blood cells, improve the heart’s performance, and stimulate the digestive mechanism. In addition, beer contains phosphorus that aids digestion and magnesium that strengthens the heart’s muscles and more.

Beer is also a source of soluble fibre, which comes from the barley. According to The Brewers of Europe, an organization that represents European breweries, two glasses of beer can provide 10 percent of your recommended daily fibre intake.

Beer can be healthy for the heart

A major study published in the American Heart Association journal – “Circulation”, researched the general influence of drinking beer in relation to the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. The study surveyed 15 studies containing more than 200,000 participants. From these studies’ summaries, it was found that the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases decreased by 75% among beer drinkers, in comparison with non-drinkers. The summary of these studies’ results indicates clearly, that drinking beer in moderation reduces the risk of heart and blood vessel diseases.

Beer may strengthen the immune system

A study that was recently published in the scientific journal for nutrition and metabolism – “Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism” is the first clinical study of its kind. It researched the influence of drinking regular beer in moderation on the body’s immune system in a population of 57 healthy men and women. The researchers’ conclusion was that regularly drinking beer in moderation helps strengthen immune system, especially in women. It can also explain beer’s influence in its fight against the body’s different diseases and its prevention of them.

Beer contains antioxidants

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry suggests that the levels of antioxidants found in blood are elevated after beer is consumed.

Beer can ward off disease

Many studies have found that moderate alcohol consumption may lower a drinker’s risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, and can even reduce weight gain. But some research suggests that beer specifically may play a role in fending off disease.

A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture suggests that drinking beer moderately may ward off osteoporosis. The researchers found that beer is a good source of dietary silicon, which is important for bone growth and development.

Beer may also help reduce cancer risk. Studies suggest that Xanthohumol, a plant compound found in hops, may help prevent cancer, as well as reduce menopausal hot flashes and fight off osteoporosis.

Beer can keep your kidneys healthy

Drinking beer could actually help reduce your risk of developing kidney stones, according to a recent study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. According to that study, men and women who reported drinking a moderate amount of beer reduced their risk of developing a stone by 41 percent. By contrast, drinking soda increased their risk by 23 percent.

Are light beers better than regular ones?

If you’re counting your calories, you may gravitate toward so-called light beers. There are many tasty light beers on the market and those are great choices if you like the flavours. But don’t feel like you have to forgo your favourite brand if you’re watching your weight—there isn’t actually a big difference between most light beers and a regular bottle of brew. For example, a 342 g bottle of beer with five percent alcohol has about 140 calories, while a light beer with four percent alcohol has about 100 calories.

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
http://www.besthealthmag.ca/

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