Beer Drinking Is Good For You - In Moderation

Many studies have been made into the health benefits of drinking red wine in moderation, but what about beer. Could this popular beverage be doing you any good. Well, the good news, for beer drinkers, is that recent studies suggest that it maybe as or even more healthy than red wine provided that it is not drunk to excess. Both wine and beer contain alcohol which has been shown to have a number of good effects on our body.

Health Benefits of Beer

For instance higher HDL cholesterol levels have been associated with moderate alcohol consumption. Just in case you are wondering, HDL cholesterol is good whereas LDL is the bad guy. Fibrinogen is a protein which promotes blood clots that can lead to strokes. It has been found that drinkers have lower levels of fibrinogen than those that abstain from alcohol.

In Germany, a study carried out by the Institute of Epidemiology at the University of Muenster suggested that moderate beer consumption lowered the risk of coronary heart disease. One cause of atherosclerosis, otherwise known as hardening of the arteries, is linked to high levels of insulin. Since alcohol lowers insulin levels, it is said to lower the risk of atherosclerosis as well.

Of course, there are other elements in beer besides the alcohol. For example, researchers at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute in The Netherlands, found that amongst beer drinkers, there was a 30% increase in vitamin B6 whereas red wine drinkers only gained half that amount.

Folates are B-vitamin nutrients found in some fruit and vegetables and are said to help combat cardiovascular disease. A study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2001 showed that beer also had high folate levels which are one of the reasons for it's healthy effects.

If you are an older woman, you will be pleased to know that according to the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001, a study carried out at Harvard came to the conclusion that moderate beer drinking will help you maintain your mental abilities.

Elderly people quite often suffer from thinning of the leg bones caused by a reduction in mineral density. According to a study from Tuft's University, beer consumption can assist in the protection of bone mineral density.

Beer and Health Damage

So, I hear you ask, after all of these good benefits of moderate beer consumption, are there any potential risks? One unanimous verdict amongst researchers is that pregnant women or breast feeding mother's should not drink alcohol in any form. The reasoning is that alcohol can pass through the umbilical cord or through breast milk and affect the brain of the baby. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can be another consequence of alcohol consumption while pregnant.

Beer and Weight Gain

Although beer does not contain any fat, the alcohol and sugars do contain calories which can cause weight gain. Depending on the type of beer, an average glass contains between 150 to 450 calories. However, the good news is that beer has a lower calorie count by volume than an equivalent glass of red wine.

Excessive beer consumption, or any other alcoholic beverage for that matter, can lead to liver and kidney damage. As well as that, the mental agility of heavy drinkers is severely impaired which can lead to accidents both on the road and around the home.

Drinking in Moderation

As with most things in life, the key once again is moderation. Moderate beer drinking can be relaxing as well as reducing stress levels. On the flip side, the disadvantages of excessive drinking far outweigh the benefits. Some 90% of beer is water which together with the alcohol helps to flush the kidneys. It also contains decent amounts of magnesium, selenium, B-vitamins and other components.

Although no single study will give a definitive answer, you can rest assured that one or two glasses of beer per day has far more health benefits than risks. However, go over the top with your daily consumption and you will eventually pay the price!