Alcohol is always a tricky subject to cover. Some people don’t approve of alcohol because it can be addictive, it can impair your judgment, and it can cause health problems. While these arguments are all true, they are all also the result of overdrinking.I want to be very clear that I do not advocate or recommend over-consuming alcohol.
Beer Delivers Nutrients Your Heart Needs
Heart disease is the number one killer in this country. So any news about things you can do that can help prevent heart disease is important.
In two large studies reported on in the Wall Street journal, researchers found that beer reduced hypertension and lowered the risk of heart disease. One of the studies suggested that beer may even be more effective at fighting heart disease than wine! (Both drinks deliver vitamins and micronutrients that help your cardiovascular system and your overall health.)
The studies found that beer helps to raise your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Raising your levels of good cholesterol is a more effective way to fight heart disease than lowering your bad cholesterol. However, raising your HDL cholesterol is often harder to do, so easy lifestyle choices that boost HDL are very valuable.
The hops and barley used to make beer are also loaded with B-vitamins… and those vitamins get passed along to you when you enjoy a beer. B-vitamins help to lower your homocysteine levels, and high homocysteine is linked to higher heart disease risks.
But beer isn’t just a heart healthy drink… it can do much more for your body, too.
Beer Belly? That’s a Myth
No doubt, you’ve heard the term beer belly. Well, that term isn’t exactly accurate. If you drink responsibly, a review of research found that beer can actually fight obesity. The hops used to make beer contain a compound called isohumulones. These isohumulones give beer its bitter taste. They also help your body to use blood sugar effectively. Healthy blood sugar levels help your body to regulate weight gain and can prevent adult onset diabetes.
That being said, beer is dense in calories and carbohydrates. If you drink too much of it on a regular basis, you’ll overwhelm the benefits of the isohumolones, and turn the beer belly myth into a reality. Responsible drinking equals one beer a day for women and up to two a day for men. When you drink responsibly, you’ll also help keep your bones strong, protect your cells from cancer, and prevent oxidative damage in your arteries.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of health benefits hiding in a glass of beer. While, I do not recommend that you start drinking—that’s a very personal decision—I do think it is important to realize that having a beer with dinner each night is not a bad idea… it may even be one of the healthiest parts of your meal.
Mark Rosenberg, MD
Photo Credit: joyandfood.com