We all have our drink of choice, and for some, there’s nothing better than winding down after a long day with a cold beer. Millions upon millions of liters of beer are consumed around the world, and it might come as a surprise to some that China is actually the biggest beer drinking country over the United States and Germany. Beer is one of those globally recognized things that almost everyone has tried (as long as you’re of age, of course).
We’ve been told by health professionals that drinking beer is bad for your health, and that’s certainly true if you’re binge drinking or drinking more than the recommended amount on a daily basis. What might surprise you is that the occasional drink (up to one beer per day) is actually going to be good for your health. Obviously this doesn’t mean pounding a couple of cans of some of the bottom shelf beer, but instead the higher quality varieties. To show you that we’re not kidding, let’s take a look at some of the proven health benefits that you can get from drinking beer.
Nutrition of Beer
Some alcoholic drinks such as vodka have almost no nutritional value because the main ingredients are simply water and ethanol. In the case of beer, there are more ingredients at play to give it a nice little range of nutrition. There are a ton of different beers out there, but let’s look at the nutrition of your average brew. At about 150 calories per can, you’re getting a small amount of protein with 1.6 grams.
There are some surprising vitamins found in beer, including niacin and vitamin B6 at about 10 percent of your daily recommended value. Folate and riboflavin come in at around five percent, with trace amounts of thiamin, vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid. As for the minerals, you’re getting around five percent of the daily recommendation of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium with trace amounts of calcium, copper and manganese. There are quite a few carbohydrates in beer, but you can control the amount by controlling your beer intake.
One of the first health problems that are typically associated with drinking too much beer on a consistent basis is heart disease. Drinking beer in moderation can actually make your heart healthier, though, and a large study conducted last year showed the results. The study, which was conducted by the American Heart Association, found that 80,000 people who drank beer on a moderated basis lowered their cholesterol over time.
One of the reasons that this happened was because of the vitamin B6 content within beer that people might not be getting otherwise. You can thin your blood slightly with the daily beer and reduce inflammation, making it easier to breakdown the cholesterol in your blood. Studies did find, however, drinking more than one beer per day negated any of the benefits for the heart.
Creative Juices Flowing
Do you ever get incredibly nervous speaking in front of a lot of people, but seem to loosen up once you start drinking? That effect comes after just one beer, as you don’t need to overdo it. While it’s not exactly a “brain food” like some of the items that we’ve looked at that can improve your cognitive ability, beer can make you more creative. You start to think outside of the box after one beer, and studies showed that solving verbal problems was completed faster by those that had a beer compared to those that didn’t.
Though you won’t be smarter from drinking beer (even if you feel that way), you can protect your brain. Because of the effect on cholesterol that beer has, you can lower your chances of dementia later in life. Researchers found that it was the fact that beer can increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels that this becomes possible. Throw in the fact that you feel more relaxed and can sleep better after one beer, and it’s actually helping your brain.
Beer has been shown to have a positive effect on your bones, increasing the density by drinking in moderation. This is because beer contains something known as dietary silicon, which isn’t found in many other foods or beverages. One large study looked into the bone density of people drinking in moderation, and found that they were nearly 40 percent less likely to suffer from osteoporosis compared to those that steered clear of beer.
Other studies have linked a lowering in hip fractures and other bone fractures to drinking beer. Beer also contains magnesium and potassium, which further strengthens the bones in your body. As an added bonus, all of these things tied together also led to a large decrease in the amount of kidney stones that patients in the study were experiencing.
Most people will grab a large bottle of water, post workout shake or a sports drink like Gatorade after a long workout. However, you might have noticed that many long distance runners are often spotted drinking a beer once they’ve finished a race. Though a beer might not sound good after sweating up a storm, but you might want to reconsider.
Multiple studies have looked into what beer does to your body after a workout, asking patients to increase their internal temperatures to 104 degrees. Those that drank beer instead of water actually ended up rehydrating faster than those that stuck to water. Some researchers have said that this is debatable, but many gym rats swear by drinking their daily beer after a workout.
Overconsumption of alcohol in general has a strong link to an increased risk of diabetes, but one beer per day actually has the opposite effect. A study that took nearly 40,000 people over four years found that those that drank moderately compared to not at all drastically reduced their chances of type 2 diabetes. Some thought it would have the opposite effect since beer is much higher in carbohydrates than it is in fiber. That’s why having a high fiber diet and drinking in moderation is key to preventing diabetes.
Summing it Up
We always look at the pros and cons when it comes to foods and drinks, and most of the cons of beer are pretty obvious. Since alcohol is addicting, going over the moderation level can lead to a dependence on alcohol and continued alcohol abuse. This leads to a number of problems that range from low blood sugar, weight gain, dehydration, heart disease and many more problems.
You’ve probably seen someone that has abused alcohol such as beer in the past, especially when sporting a lot of excess weight on the midsections and a bloated face with bags under their eyes. These are all symptoms of the problems stated above, so it’s of the utmost importance to control your beer intake. As long as you can do that, you can get the great health benefits that we mentioned and enjoy your evening after a long day at work or in the gym!