Did you know that International Beer Day is celebrated on the first Friday in August every year? It’s actually rather a timely coincidence given that new research suggests that beer, consumed in moderation, can have a positive impact on a person’s health.
In fact, the study that was recently published in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences concluded that doctors “should be aware of the growing evidence supporting the nutritional and health benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle”.
The study found that beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine. It’s also high in antioxidants and affords people a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the antioxidant content of beer, while equivalent to that of wine, actually contains different antioxidants. That’s because beer is made from hops and barley, whereas wine is made from grapes.
Beer Can Combat Diabetes and Heart Disease
The range of flavonoids and phenolic acids found in beer, including naturally-occurring compounds found in plants, benefit the human body and help fight diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
Drinking beer is also associated with increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – also known as ‘good’ cholesterol.
However, unsurprisingly, there is a serious caveat with the study noting that these benefits only apply when beer is consumed in moderation, not vast quantities. In other words, one drink per day for women and a maximum of two for men. Moreover, the health benefits will only be realised if you follow a healthy, balanced diet too, so one that features lots of pub grub bought with your pint isn’t going to cut it.
It’s also important to note that frequently exceeding recommended alcohol guidelines – currently 14 units per week, according to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer – can lead to liver damage, heart disease and weight gain.
And those 14 units shouldn’t all be consumed in one session. They should be spread over at least three or four days if you drink regularly.
But Beer’s Not Without Its Hazards
Then there are the other hazards associated with too much alcohol consumption, like the loss of cognitive function when drunk and the dreaded hangover the next day. Let’s also not forget that beer is full of carbohydrates and calories.
Hong Kong-based nutritionist Sisi Yip, who graduated from the University of Leeds in northern England, said beer is interesting in terms of health because it contains a myriad of healthy compounds.
“Beer contains trace amounts of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium, fluoride, and silicon,” she said.
So, there you have it. If you want to raise a glass next International Beer Day, you can do so without feeling too guilty. Just don’t overdo it and stick to the government’s recommended alcohol guidelines. Oh, and lay off the pub food while you’re out too – it will help both your waistline and your wallet.
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