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
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
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
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!