Fall is right around the corner and that means good times are on draft. But with that seasonal shift comes a wave of cold and flu, making some visits to the tap room a trial. The good news? Scads of research shows that moderate beer consumption is related to a host of surprising health benefits. With high dietary fiber, no cholesterol, and fewer calories by volume than wine, spirits, or orange juice (about 150 per 12 oz. bottle on average), it’s got some advantages right off the bat. And according to the Center for Human Nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, beer contains more protein and essential B vitamins than wine from a nutritional standpoint—especially B3, B6, and B9.
Read on for five more detailed reasons that beer can be part of a healthy, balanced diet, keeping in mind that excess alcohol and its calories will cancel out any payoff.
What’s your favorite fall or winter beer? Tell us here. And stay strong!
As recently reported in TIME magazine, beer is a rich source of silicon, which increases bone density, and may help fight osteoporosis, according to a February 2010 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. TIME also cited a July 2012 study published by Oregon State University on postmenopausal women who derived some bone health benefits from drinking beer.
Over-drinking obviously impairs and damages the brain, but studies show that moderate consumption has the benefit of staving off Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related afflictions of decline in adults.
According to several studies, alcohol can increase HDL—or the so-called "good" cholesterol levels. This can be a factor in lessening the hardening of arteries and thickening of blood, both of which contribute to heart attacks. In fact, The European Journal of Epidemiology reported in 2011 that moderate consumption of beer decreases drinkers' risk of heart disease by 31%, just like wine. Moderate alcohol intake has also been shown to lower the chance of stroke.
DON’T FEAR THE DARK
Research has shown that dark beer is higher in soluble fiber, and may counteract clotting that can lead to heart problems. It’s also been shown to be full of antioxidants, counteracting natural cellular damage and possibly some forms of cancer. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture showed dark beer has higher iron content compared to lighter beers. Why this matters: iron helps distribute oxygen throughout the body.
As we reported earlier, the delicate green flowers that impart bitterness and aroma to beer are naturally high in humulone, which may help fend off certain seasonal ailments in adults, not to mention cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. They’re also high in phytochemicals that slow the release of calcium from bones (read: good for the kidneys) and in proteins that give you healthy hair.
Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar