6 Surprising Ways That Beer Benefits Your Health
Thanks to its association with the Mediterranean diet, wine has gotten the green light as a healthy beverage for years. Beer, on the other hand, usually makes people think of keg stands and frat parties — hardly the picture of health. It’s time to change beer’s bad reputation because it boasts health benefits just like wine. As long as you’re not overdoing it, your favorite brew can help you score these six benefits.
1. Healthier heart
Many studies have looked at the link between alcohol consumption and heart disease over the last few decades, and the results have been relatively favorable for those who like to enjoy a few drinks. One study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found men who consumed at least three or four alcoholic beverages a week, including wine, beer, and liquor, had a lower risk of heart attack than men who drank alcohol less than once per week.
Though most research has investigated alcohol as a whole, some have taken a more specific look at beer. One example appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study prescribed one beer per day for a month to men with coronary heart disease. At the end of the month, those who downed the daily brew experienced a decrease in a type of protein called fibrinogen, which equates to a lower risk of heart disease. It was a small sampling, but the results are still interesting.
2. Brain boost
In addition to giving beer a bitter taste that every IPA drinker adores, hops also contribute a potent flavanoid called xanthohumol. In a 2015 study, researchers found this compound can exert a protective power over brain cells in a way that may ward off neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The research is still in the early stages, so time will tell just how effective the flavonoid really is.
Brain benefits don’t end there, either. While enjoying a few brews isn’t likely to turn you into the next Einstein, doing so may boost your creativity. One group of researchers discovered men with a blood alcohol content of .075 were able to solve problems in a type of creative word association test more quickly than their sober peers.
3. Nutritional value
When it comes to antioxidants, it turns out beer may actually be better than wine. NPR reported beer contains many of the same antioxidants found in wine and dark chocolate, and some of them may actually be more readily absorbed by our bodies. What’s more, beer boasts more protein, selenium, and B vitamins than wine.
But what about the dreaded beer belly? There’s really no truth to it. Time explained the calories from beer don’t zero in on your gut. Your midsection will accumulate fat from consuming too many calories in any form. Maybe it should be called a beer, bacon, and brownie belly from now on. While any alcoholic beverage contains a fair number of calories, drinking beer in moderation can be completely healthy.
4. Stronger bones
As we get older, bone density naturally decreases. This explains why elderly folks are more prone to fractures after falling. Health professionals typically urge aging people to consume adequate amounts of calcium and engage in weight-bearing exercises to combat this loss. They also might want to consider advising patients to enjoy a beer or two because a 2009 study from Tufts University found men who drank one to two beers per day showed greater bone mineral density than those who refrained from alcohol.
Researchers think beer’s bone-protecting power may be due to its silicon content. This mineral has been shown to boost bone health, particularly when it comes from a liquid source rather than a solid food.
5. Digestive health
Though it might sound a little bit backwards, having a high level of acid in your stomach is a good thing. According to SFGate, too little acid in your gut makes it difficult for your body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients. Once again, beer can help you out. One 2012 study showed consuming beer, particularly bitter ones, helped to stimulate gastric acid secretion.
6. Aids exercise recovery
While you might think you need to down a few glasses of water post-exercise before hitting the bar with your friends, research indicates it isn’t necessary. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared the effects of rehydrating with beer versus water after exercising during hot conditions. The results found those who tanked up with beer were no worse off than those who consumed water. But keep in mind, we’re talking about standard beer rather than the craft brews that boast 10% alcohol content.