In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I’d like to tell you a little about beer. We always hear about the various health benefits that come from drinking wine, but not so much about beer. I would say most people probably see beer as being an unhealthy beverage. However, as with most things, beer is okay and maybe even beneficial to your health when consumed in moderation. Moderate drinking is 2 12-oz beers a day for a man, and 1 for a women.
A study done by the University of Wisconsin found that drinking about 24 ounces of Guinness reduced blood clotting activity in the subjects. By reducing blood clotting, the risk of heart attacks is decreased. This health benefit is attributed to the antioxidants in the dark stout, similar to those found in red wine and dark chocolate. These antioxidants, however, are not found in other styles of beers such as ales and lagers. (source)
Don’t fret if you don’t care for stout though. Other beers (again in moderation) can have health benefits.
1. Stronger bones: Beer has high silicon content which may protect bone health. A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who consumed one or two beers a day had greater bone mineral density than those who drank more or fewer beers. IPA’s have the highest silicon content.
2. Healthy heart: Alcohol raises levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and has anti-clotting effects. An Israeli study found that people who drank one beer daily had lower levels of fibrinogen, a protein that helps promote blood clotting, than those who did not drink.
3. Healthy kidneys: A study done in Finland found that men who drank beer had a 40 percent lower risk of kidney stones compared to those who drank other types of alcohol. This benefit might be attributed to the high water content of beer as dehydration increases the risk of kidney stones. The hops in beer may also help prevent kidney stones by slowing the release of calcium from bones.
4. Better brain function: We all know that excessive drinking can cause brain damage, and while under the influence you aren’t any smarter. However, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine “analyzed the drinking habits of about 11,000 women over more than 15 years, found that those who had up to one drink a day had a 20 percent lower risk of brain function decline (as measured by memory and other cognition tests) than nondrinkers. Alcohol intake may protect blood vessels in the brain and also lower stroke risk, say researchers.”
5. Decreased cancer risk: You don’t necessarily have to drink beer to reap the benefits. According to a Portuguese study, marinating steak in beer could eliminate up to 88 percent of the carcinogens when the meat is pan-fried. Cooking meat at high temperatures creates cancer-causing compound and researchers believe the sugars in beer help prevent these compounds from forming.
Just remember, before you go crazy celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day with countless pints of green beer, that binge drinking is never beneficial to your body, brain, and possibly your dignity and reputation. Check out this link to find out what happens to your body when you binge drink on Saint Patty’s Day. Have a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!!