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Beer and Your Health

Posted by Maggie on May 11, 2010

This article from explains some of the health benefits of beer.  Who knew it was better for you than wine?  Wine gets lots of press for its health benefits.  Evidently beer also deserves attention.

I don’t agree with author’s claim that industrial beer is as good for you as microbrews.  They do not use the same high quality ingredients and they are more likely to have additives or impurities.   Maybe this website is partially sponsored by Bud.  Also, the last statement is somewhat puzzling.  You judge for yourself.

Wine Is Fine, But Beer May Be Better

Date updated: March 19, 2007
By Sid Kirchheimer
Content provided by Revolution Health Group

As beer drinkers gather to toast St. Patrick’s Day, they might be surprised to discover that the shamrock-shaded beverage not only helps to instill Irish pride, it also could yield some major health benefits.

In fact, studies show that drinking beer — a customary way to celebrate the holiday — can help lower blood pressure and strengthen bones. What’s more, beer may be better for your health than wine.

If you’re surprised, you’re not alone. In a random survey of 1,000 adults that was conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy, 56% responded that wine was healthy, while only 16% thought the same thing about beer. “Frankly, I was surprised that so few people considered beer as healthful as wine,” says center director Maureen Storey, Ph.D.

Indeed, the medical journals have documented the brew’s disease-fighting dynamics. So in the spirit of St. Patty’s Day — and other hoist-worthy holidays — here are some other reasons (as if you need them) to cheer your beer:

•    Stronger bones. Beer is a rich source of dietary silicon, a mineral that improves bone density. “Wine, unfortunately, is not,” notes biochemist Charles W. Bamforth, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis, and author of Beer: Health and Nutrition (Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2004), an academic book on the healthful properties of brew. “Thus far, the studies indicate a very real reduction in osteoporosis risk if you consume beer … more so than from drinking wine or spirits.”

•    Less hypertension. In one Harvard University study involving 70,000 female nurses, regular beer drinkers had lower rates of high blood pressure than those who drank similar amounts of either wine or spirits.

•    A bounty of nutrients. Although wine is glorified for its reported antioxidant properties — and yes, grape skins have their share — the hops in beer have their own major-league nutrients. One is xanthohumol, a tongue-twisting phytochemical believed to provide more estrogenic punch than soy. (Take note, postmenopausal women.) In test tube experiments, xanthohumol has inhibited the growth of cancer cells. Meanwhile, one European drug company is reportedly testing a hops-powered hormone-replacement-therapy drug.

•    Fiber, folic acid and more. “Beer also contains a significant amount of folic acid and other B vitamins, as well as soluble fiber — all associated with better heart health,” Bamforth adds. “The myth that beer is [just] empty calories is simply not true.”

But what about the calories?

The main source of calories in beer is the alcohol — but ounce per ounce, most beer is lower in calories than wine or hard liquor. While beer contains carbohydrates, they are slow-release carbs — “the good kind,” Bramforth says.

One 12-ounce serving of beer averages 150 calories. One 5-ounce serving of wine averages between 90 calories and 120 calories, depending on the type of wine. Bottom line: Blame the beer belly on the nachos, not the suds, experts say.

St. Pauli Girl vs. Budweiser

Is one beer better than another? There is no evidence to suggest that one brand of beer offers more health benefits than another. The same holds true for dark beers vs. light-colored ones.

The truth is that all beer is made from the same ingredients: barley, hops and water. Most of the health benefits come from the alcohol. What’s more, microbrews don’t deserve a higher-quality or better-for-you reputation than mass-produced beers. Taste aside, the mass-produced ones are equally healthful and use equally high-quality ingredients, Bamforth says.

Heart-smart drinking

The cardiovascular benefits of beer come from the alcohol, which “raises ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, at least as much as regular aerobic exercise,” says Arthur Klatsky, M.D. His landmark 1974 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine provided the first epidemiological evidence that moderate alcohol consumption was associated with lower rates of heart disease.

“You get the same reduction in heart attack risk from a comparable amount of beer as you do from wine,” adds Klatsky, senior cardiology consultant at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif.

“Alcohol also enhances the body’s natural clot-dissolving mechanism to break down clots before they can trigger a heart attack or stroke,” he says. “And recent research shows that moderate drinking seems to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Of course, Klatsky and other experts don’t encourage anyone to start drinking for better health. But if you already imbibe, it’s worth noting that it’s the pattern that provides the protection. “Since these cardio-protective effects are short-lived, it’s best to have 1 to 2 drinks per day — ideally, every day,” Klatsky says.

More specifically, that means having 1 to 2 12-ounce servings of beer, 5-ounce glasses of wine or 1 to 1.5-ounce shots of liquor per day — as opposed to 5 or 6 drinks in one sitting on a Friday night. Excessive intake increases your risk for many health problems. At the other extreme, drinking small amounts of alcohol every so often is not advantageous either and will actually negate some of the health benefits previously mentioned.

“In our data, we’re finding that while moderate alcohol consumption of any type is better than not drinking” at all, the consumption of liquor is less beneficial than wine or beer, Klatsky says. “For women, protection seems to be best with wine. But for men, it’s from beer.”


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Beer Drinking to Prevent Osteoporosis

Posted by Maggie on May 8, 2010

This article appeared in the UK Telegraph in February of 2010.

Beer boosts bones and fends off osteoporosis

Drinking beer especially pale ale strengthens your bones and could stop them becoming brittle, a study suggests.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:30AM GMT 08 Feb 2010

Great British Beer Festival : Beer boosts bones and fends off  osteoporosis

Beer, especially pale ales, contains high levels of silicon known to slow down the bone thinning that leads to fractures Photo: CORBIS

Researchers found that the drink contained a substance that boosts bones and could mean they are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis.

They discovered that beer, especially pale ales, contains high levels of silicon known to slow down the bone thinning that leads to fractures and boosting the formation of new bone.

The finding, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, backs up previous research which also showed that the drink was good at fending off brittle bones – especially in women.

“The factors in brewing that influence silicon levels in beer have not been extensively studied”, said Dr Charles Bamforth, lead author at the University of California.

They found that lighter beers with a greater use of hops had the most silicon.

Silicon is present in beer in the soluble form of orthosilicic acid (OSA), up to half of which can be absorbed by the body making beer a major contributor to silicon intake in the Western diet.

Based on these findings, some studies suggest moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis, a disease of the skeletal system characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue.

The researchers found that the extra heat used in malting darker beers tended to destroy some of the silicon. Beers with more hops naturally had more silicon they found.

Osteoporosis or low bone density is often described as a silent epidemic of the 21st century. In the UK alone it results in more than 200,000 fractures annually and costs the NHS more than £1 billion a year.

Three million Britons are affected by osteoporosis.

The actual biological role of silicon in bone health and formation is not known though it is thought to help manufacture collagen, one of its major components.

“Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon,” concludes Dr. Bamforth.

“Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer.”

Dr Claire Bowring, National Osteoporosis Society, said the research did not mean that people head for the pub.

“These findings mirror results from previous studies which concluded that moderate alcohol consumption could be beneficial to bones,” she said.

However, while the National Osteoporosis Society welcomes measures to improve bone health we do not recommend anyone increases their alcohol consumption on the basis of these studies. While low quantities of alcohol may appear to have bone density benefits, higher intakes have been show to decrease bone strength, with an alcohol intake of more than two units per day actually increasing the risk of breaking a bone.

“There are also many other health concerns linked with alcohol which cannot be ignored.”

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