We often read about the health benefits of drinking a glass of wine a day. But those who prefer a cold beer will be happy to learn that their favorite tipple also boasts several health benefits.
Of course, as with all things in life, moderation is key when it comes to reaping the health benefits of beer. And, not only does drinking beer in excess undo all these benefits, but it will also leave you staring down at an unhealthy beer belly to boot.
But what exactly are the health benefits of beer? Keep reading to find out!
1. Beer Contains a Range of Nutrients
Like wine, beer provides a unique range of powerful, health-boosting antioxidants due to the abundance of flavonoids in malt and hops.
Beer also contains protein and vitamin B. This is thanks to the yeast beer contains, which you can find more details about here.
Other nutrients in beer include fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, silicon, magnesium, and potassium.
2. Beer May Help Protect Your Heart
Research shows that moderate beer consumption can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. And, if you’re a fan of dark ales and stout beers, you’ll be happy to hear that these types of beer are especially effective when it comes to protecting your heart.
Beer helps your heart by lowering inflammation and thinning the blood to improve blood flow. This then prevents clots which can block arteries in the heart, neck, and brain. As a result, moderate beer drinking may make you less likely to suffer from heart attacks and heart disease than those who don’t drink.
3. Beer Boosts Good Cholesterol
Another of the many health benefits of drinking beer is its abilities to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as ‘good’ cholesterol. This good cholesterol helps to remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduces plaque buildup in the arteries.
The resulting effect, as shown in this recent study of over 71,000 healthy adults, is that moderate beer consumption slows down the natural decrease in good cholesterol over time. But, to reiterate the importance of moderation in beer-drinking, the study also found that heavy drinking canceled out this benefit.
4. Beer Can Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Several studies have found a positive link between beer consumption and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. But, this link is only found when comparing those who drink a moderate amount to non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.
In one study, conducted by Harvard, researchers examined this effect in greater detail by studying middle-aged men who were light drinkers. These men were able to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and also improve their insulin sensitivity by increasing their alcohol consumption to a moderate amount.
5. Beer May Improve Bone Health
Several studies into alcohol consumption and bone health have found that those who drink a moderate amount of beer also tend to have increased bone density and less chance of suffering from osteoporosis than non-drinkers.
As a result of this higher bone density, moderate drinkers also show a reduced risk of hip fractures than non-drinkers.
The benefits of beer for your bone health are due in part to the high dietary silicon content of beer. Dietary silicon, in the form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), is important for the development and growth of bone tissue. This, in turn, helps prevent osteoporosis and low bone mass, which now affect around 54 million adults across the US.
6. Beer Can Help Memory and Cognitive Function
As well as the many benefits of beer for the body, moderate beer drinking can also help improve memory and cognition.
In fact, studies into middle-aged subjects show that increasing beer consumption to a moderate level in later life can result in less cognitive decline than abstinence or heavy drinking.
This benefit is due to a secret ingredient found in hops called xanthohumol. Xanthohumol is a powerful flavonoid which helps to slow down memory decline. Experts also believe that this chemical could help protect brain cells from the cognitive decline associated with dementia, and may even protect against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
7. Beer Can Reduce Stress
This is one of the many benefits of drinking beer that you might have been able to guess. After all, what better way to relax at the end of a hard day than by putting your feet up and enjoying a cold bottle of beer?
But in all seriousness, researchers have found that one to two glasses of beer a day can help to reduce stress, tension, and anxiety. Of course, relying on alcohol to reduce stress can be a slippery slope. As such, it’s best to combine the occasional glass of beer with other stress-relief methods, such as spending time in nature, meditation, and exercise.
That said, the psychological benefits of beer are so powerful that a small taste of beer can increase dopamine in the brain, leaving you feeling calmer and more relaxed. So, if even you’re not much of a beer drinker, you can still reap some of the health benefits by having a sip of your friend’s beer – if they let you of course!
The Surprising Health Benefits of Beer
We don’t often hear about the health benefits of beer. But, as this list of beer health facts shows, moderate beer consumption has the potential to improve everything from bone density to cognitive function.
And that’s certainly enough to persuade us to indulge in a glass or two of cold beer from time to time!
For more health and fitness inspiration and advice, be sure to check out our other blog posts!