One of the healthiest trends today involves turning solid foods into liquid and consuming them in either smoothie or juice form. The idea of ease and portability of drinking something healthy has always been fascinating to people. Taking in healthy drinks and water instead of sugary beverages are the best ways to keep the body in great shape. However, it’s only normal to crave other types of beverages. There’s great news for people who like to drink alcoholic beverages, especially those who prefer to drink beer. Recent studies have shown that beer may actually be healthier than was previously thought.
One of the world’s oldest beverages in the world, beer also happens to be the most widely consumed alcohol drink. Beer is the result of brewing different types of grains such as rice, corn, wheat, and barley. Most of the time, beer has added flavorings from herbs and fruit. Hops are typically added to maintain flavor integrity and act as a preservative as well. Beer is also naturally carbonated due to the fermentation process. Usually packaged in cans or bottles, beer has become a staple in many cultures all over the world. Drinking beer has also become a social tradition in many countries.
With typical cultural associations of beer, it is difficult to imagine it as a healthy beverage. Beer is alcohol, after all, and alcohol acts for the most part as a depressant to the body’s nervous system. But beer is also made up of natural ingredients, so it’s easy to imagine that it has natural healthy benefits as well.
Nutrition in Beer
Much like its wine counterparts, beer has its fair share of antioxidant content. Antioxidants play an essential role in the body. They help keep cells in good health by defending them against free radicals and the harmful effects of oxidation. Also, beer also has good protein content. Although this amount of protein is minimal, it shows a lot of substance in the drink versus drinking something that has no nutritious value whatsoever.
Beer also happens to be rich in B vitamins. The yeast content is responsible for this, as most beers have high concentrations of vitamins B3, B6, and B9. B vitamins are important in keeping the body’s fuel reserve stocked and ready to be expended. In addition, beer is also rich in a number of other micronutrients such as iron, calcium, and fiber. Beer also has a high phosphorus content, a mineral that is essential in bone density maintenance and overall bone health.
The hops used in brewing beer are known to contain a flavonoid compound that has special anti-cancer properties. Xanthohumol has been shown to play an important role in the prevention of cancer. Some studies have even shown xanthohumol to be better than resveratrol, the main polyphenol in wine. Xanthohumol has also been shown to have other general therapeutic benefits as well.
The antioxidants in beer can help in the aging process as well. Beer is known to increase the effects of vitamin E, an antioxidant that plays a major role in the maintenance of healthy skin. Good amounts of vitamin E in the body will help replenish the surface of the skin to give it a youthful appearance even as the body ages.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Beer is naturally rich in B vitamins, and one type is particularly helpful in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Vitamin B6 acts to protect the heart against diseases by building a compound called homocysteine. Homocysteine acts as a blood thinner that prevents clotting in the arteries. Also, beer helps in preventing inflammation in blood vessels and artery walls. This is what happens when cholesterol builds up, and the result is atherosclerosis. Moderate beer consumption fights against these risks.
There are so many other benefits that moderate beer consumption can provide for the body. Some studies have shown that bone density increases when beer is a regular part of a diet. Stronger bone density helps prevent fractures and even osteoporosis in some people. In addition, since beer is a good source of folic acid and vitamin B12, it can also help the body fight off anemia. Much like other B vitamins, B12 also has other benefits such as increased concentration and healthier memory functions. It can help in the prevention of dementia as well.
The fermentation of beer also produces a number of enzymes that aid in digestive health. Beer also helps in the stimulation of digestive enzymes, gastric acid, and pancreatic enzymes. It is also known to be a good source of magnesium, which helps lower the risk for the development of kidney stones. Beer also has diuretic properties. Beer drinkers noticeably urinate more frequently. This naturally helps the body get rid of any toxins or waste materials.
Perhaps one of the most understated benefits of beer is its stress-relieving property. After all, most people drink beer in order to have a good time. Much like any other alcoholic beverage, beer increases the release of dopamine in the brain. This means that the reward centers of the brain are bombarded with endorphins whenever beer is consumed. The effect of this is an overall positive mood and decrease in stress levels.
There are many different types of beer throughout the world, and all of them contain health benefits that can be beneficial if consumed in moderation. There is even a non-alcoholic alternative for beer that gives the same benefits without the hang over. The key is to drink in moderation. Beer can be helpful, but it also doesn’t replace a complete and nutritious diet. While beer has many positive things to offer, these can be canceled out if too much is consumed. So eat, drink, and be merry, just not too much that the adverse effects of beer start to take over.
- Arnold, J.P. (2005). Origin and History of Beer and Brewing: From Prehistoric Times to the Beginning of Brewing Science and Technology. Cleveland: BeerBooks.
- Burgess, A.H. (1964). Hops: Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization. Leonard Hill.