According to a recent study conducted at University of Texas Southwestern, moderate consumption of beer has more health benefits than red wine.
The study shows that beer in moderation can offer protection against heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and dementia. Red wine gets all the glory because people who drink wine also tend to have healthier lifestyles in general. All forms of alcohol have benefits in moderation, but beer data has been submerged because beer drinkers tend to have unhealthy habits like binge drinking and smoking as well.
In the 1990s the United States government allowed red wine labels to state that two glasses a day could help protect against these killer illnesses. Red wine producers were extremely happy with this but the other alcoholic beverage producers in the industry complained as there was other evidence to suggest it was the modest but regular drinking of any alcohol that did you good. The truth seems to lie somewhere in between.
Two alcoholic drinks a day produce medical benefits but different forms of alcohol have specific advantages. The overall evidence is that moderate social drinkers live longer and are generally healthier than abstainers. Moderation means one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink is equivalent to twelve ounces of beer.
Alcohol consumption’s effects were on health were studied for decades as a part of research into hypertension. There are more than 30 studies that document the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Why is beer better?
When it comes to beer, a study of 70,000 nurses that showed the beer drinkers had lower hypertension than wine or bourbon whiskey drinkers. A Kaiser Permanente survey of more than 125,000 people showed less heart disease for beer drinkers than wine or bourbon whiskey drinkers and a study from the Netherlands showed less risk of Alzheimer’s disease for beer drinkers. Beer has varying components like hops and barley that are not present in wine or bourbon whiskey. The added benefits include ingredients like B vitamins or folates, which have been shown to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood and reduce heart disease risk.
In general, moderate amounts of alcohol also have ways of improving good cholesterol by at least 10 to 20 percent and it prevents blood from clotting in a way similar to aspirin. Alcohol gets into the blood and has effects everywhere but there’s lots of evidence that alcohol use in moderation reduces heart attack, stroke and dementia.
According to another study, moderate beer drinkers have the least heart attacks over time compared to wine or bourbon whiskey drinkers. Preliminary findings also show a possible benefit in beer for reducing osteoporosis as many of the hops used in brewing contain phytoestrogens, which help prevent bone loss. Also, the yeast in double fermented, triple fermented and bottle-conditioned beers contains many important nutrients such as amino acids, B-Complex vitamins and minerals.
As far as the risk of weight gain that accompanies drinking beer? Most beers actually have fewer calories than non-diet soft drinks, whole milk and wine. Also, much of the weight gain people commonly attribute to beer drinking has more to do with the snack foods that so often accompany it (this should not be news to anyone who has read my previous Beer & Health articles).
NEW! SUPPLEMENT OF THE MONTH
One of the best supplements for losing weight isn’t a wacky pill or stimulant. It’s plain ol’ fiber. Just swallow some fiber before meal time and it’ll turn into a paste in your stomach, which helps trick your brain into thinking you’ve already eaten. Besides helping you meet your daily fiber quota, that paste also slows the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your bloodstream, making it easier for your body to burn stored fat as energy. In other words, fiber supplementation lowers the glycemic index of whatever you eat or drink afterwards (see Beer & Health #5). For example, let’s say you’re on a carbohydrate restricted diet. Ingesting fiber prior to downing a serving of mashed potatoes or popping open a beer with a high sugar content such as a Belgian Dubbel, Trippel , Quad or Scotch ale will lower the total “net” or “impact carbs.” The most common fiber supplement is psyllium, which comes in a powder form (think Metamucil). It’s cheap and easy to find. You can also look for pills containing glucomannan, like Tetrazene, which forms an even denser gel in your stomach and packs an even more healthful punch. Take 1-2 servings of either type of fiber with water at least thirty minutes before meal time, Happy Hour at Monk’s Café in Philly or any other Belgian tap house or pub around the globe.
If you have any questions about, diet, exercise or beer (as it relates to both), feel free to beer-mail me at anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next month, as always, everything in moderation… including moderation.