A refreshing cold beer is the perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day. Drinking too much has been associated with liver and heart problems and even some types of cancer.
But did you know that, when taken in moderation, beer can be good for your health? Generally, moderate consumption is considered one 12-ounce beer per day for women and two for men.
Beer is created from water, barley, hops and yeast. This fat-free, cholesterol-free beverage contains significant amounts of nutrients, including soluble fiber, magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, chromium and B vitamins like vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid.
Several research studies have shown that beer is good for your overall health and helps ward off many diseases.
Here are some of the surprising health benefits of beer.
1. Lowers Heart Disease Risk
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, beer can decrease the risk of heart diseases by approximately 20% to 40%.
Researchers from Harokopio University in Athens have also found that moderate consumption of this beverage lowers cardivascular risk.
This is mainly because of the soluble fiber present in beer that helps lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in the blood. A small amount of beer on a regular basis will increase the level of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, which in turn reduces the chances of arteries hardening and blood thickening, the two main causes of heart attacks.
Also there are polyphenols in beer, which are heart-healthy antioxidants.
2. Reduces Kidney Stones
Beer is also known to decrease the risk of kidney stones. A study in Finland found that beer taken in moderation daily can reduce the risk of developing kidney stones by 40%.
The high water content (about 93%) in beer helps keep the kidneys working properly and flush harmful toxins out of the system.
Also, the diuretic effect of beer will not cause dehydration, which is one of the leading causes of kidney stones.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, compounds in hops help slow the release of calcium from bones, preventing buildup of the lost calcium in the kidneys in the form of stones.
3. Boosts Brain Health
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center have shown that beer reduces the risk of developing memory problems later in life by 23%.
Moderate intake decreases the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia because beer triggers the growth of new brain cells.
Also, beer allows the brain to enter a more flexible state of attention, thereby improving memory, concentration and reasoning power.
4. Guards against Strokes
Several studies by the American Stroke Association have shown that moderate beer drinkers cut down their risk of strokes by up to 50% compared with non-drinkers.
According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, moderate amounts of beer daily helps prevent blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, neck and brain.
These blood clots can cause ischemic stroke, which occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. However, when you drink little beer, the arteries soon become flexible and blood flow improves significantly.
5. Makes Bones Stronger
Beer contains high levels of silicon, a healthy compound that is linked to better bone health. Silicon has been found to increase bone mineral density and improve bone strength.
According to a 2009 study done at Tufts University, older people who have the habit of drinking beer in moderate amounts daily had higher bone density. However, beer in large quantities will weaken the bones and increase the risk of bone fractures.
6. Prevents Prostate Cancer
Moderate consumption of beer can provide anti-cancer benefits as well. Beer contains xanthohumol, a powerful antioxidant known to have anti-cancer properties.
It blocks a chemical reaction that can lead to the development of prostate cancer in men. It is also known to reduce the chances in females of getting breast cancer.
7. Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Many studies have found that moderate beer consumption may lower the risk of diseases like diabetes. The alcohol present in beer increases insulin sensitivity, which helps protect against diabetes.
According to a 2011 Harvard study of about 38,000 middle-aged men, those who drank one to two beers daily reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25%.
However, if you have diabetes you must choose beers with low levels of carbohydrates. Beer is a good source of soluble fiber, an important part of a healthy diet plan for those suffering from diabetes.
8. Cuts Alzheimer’s Risk
Scientists at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine analyzed several studies and came to the conclusion that moderate beer drinkers were 23 percent less likely to develop different forms of dementia and cognitive impairment.
This finding can be attributed to the silicon content in beer which helps to protect the brain from the harmful effects of aluminum.
High amounts of aluminum in the body is one of the possible causes behind Alzheimer’s. However, this doesn’t mean that non-drinkers should start drinking beer to lower their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
9. Hydrates Skin
Beer is considered good for your skin because it contains vitamins and yeast. Plus, it hydrates the skin from within and also helps maintain the pH balance of the skin.
It has also been found that ancient Egyptians took beer baths to hydrate their skin in the scorching heat of the desert. Also, the high water content in beer helps flush toxins out of the skin, which gives the face a natural glow.
You can take a beer bath by adding 2 cups of beer in a bath tub filled with warm water. Soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes. It will also help you relax and draw out toxins.
10. Hair Conditioner
High in vitamin B and yeast, beer is considered as a great hair conditioner. Be sure to wash your hair properly after, or the scent of beer may linger on you for a while. This treatment will also make your hair extra soft and shiny.
Beer is also effective at treating dandruff. Rinse your hair with a bottle of beer two to three times a week and soon the problem of dandruff will be a matter of past.
Whether hanging out with friends watching a movie, or enjoying a party, choose beer as your beverage for the day. But drink it in limited amounts to enjoy its health benefits.
Note: Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not drink alcoholic beverages, including beer.