Is beer good for you?
Beer is lighter than you might think
Beer drinkers are traditionally associated with a large gut, but according to scientists, a beer belly isn’t par for the course. Recent research has shown that drinking beer in moderation (500ml or just under a pint a day) won’t have any effect on your weight. On top of this, half a pint only contains a small amount of alcohol, at around 100kcal. That expanding waistline could be down to the high-calorie diet beer drinkers tend to have.
Even more encouragingly, one study carried out in Grenoble on volunteers aged 18 to 40 showed that a beer at lunchtime and in the evening reduced the level of bad cholesterol. But don’t get too excited – these findings are yet to be confirmed, and the study only included 24 women.
Beer can be good for the heart
So if beer won’t necessarily make you put on weight, what other virtues does it have? According to some studies, it could also protect your heart. In fact, beer contains lots of B vitamins. These lower the level of homocyteine in your blood (an indicator of inflammation, coronary problems, strokes and thrombosis). Research carried out on volunteers in the SUVIMAX study showed that men who drank beer had a slightly reduced homocyteine level. This needs to be put into context, however. B group vitamins are found mostly in green vegetables. Concentrate on getting your five a day rather than heading to the pub for nutrition!
Beer could help prevent diabetes
Beer could also help protect against diabetes. According to American studies, drinking wine or beer regularly and in moderation could stop you getting type 2 diabetes. At the same time, drinking spirits actually encourages the disease. The mechanisms at work which connect alcohol with the risk of developing diabetes aren’t fully understood yet.
Another study provided evidence of a reduced risk of bowel cancer in connection with the consumption of beer. According to researchers, the beneficial effects could be explained by antioxidants found in beer. Note that this research was carried out on rats. It’s not clear yet whether or not beer has the same effect in humans.
Everything in moderation
Whether you drink beer or wine, studies seem to suggest that moderate consumption could reduce the risks of developing many different diseases, especially heart conditions. However, the harmful effects of excessive drinking are also well known. On top of the risks associated with intoxication, regular heavy drinking damages your health. If you already drink beer or a glass of wine from time to time, don’t increase the amount you drink. Equally, if you don’t drink at all, there’s no point in starting just for the protective effect.