Most types of beer contain between 4 – 6 percent alcohol, but they can range from 0.5 – 40 percent. Picture: AP
Most types of beer contain between 4 – 6 percent alcohol, but they can range from 0.5 – 40 percent. Picture: AP

Cheers to that: The hidden health benefits of beer

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jun 1, 2020

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With the new lockdown regulations, South Africans can finally have a cold beer to quench their thirst.

You may be getting more nutrients than you think. The ingredients in beer, including hops, yeast, water and cereals, provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

When used in moderation beer can be useful in preventing diseases of the heart and circulatory system, including coronary heart disease.

Beer is a popular alcoholic beverage made by brewing and fermenting cereal grains with yeast, hops, and other flavouring agents. Most types of beer contain between 4 – 6 percent alcohol, but they can range from 0.5 – 40 percent.

Here are three reasons why beer is not really bad for you if had in moderation. Please note, this is not an encouragement to imbibe, especially if you are a teetotaler or have a medical condition

Beer is more nutritious than other alcoholic drinks

We hear a lot about the abundance of antioxidants in wine, but beer has just as many. According to Piedmont Healthcare, the specific antioxidants are different because the flavonoids in barley and hops are different from those in grapes, but antioxidants are a good thing. 

Beer is also higher than wine in protein and vitamin B. Even better; beer contains iron, calcium, phosphates and even fibre. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry

Beer has heart benefits

A study on moderate beer intake and cardiovascular health in overweight Individuals suggested that light to moderate beer and alcohol intake may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease. 

The 12-week study published on the National Library of Medicine looked at 36 adults who are overweight and found that moderate beer intake — one drink for women, two drinks for men per day — improved the antioxidant properties of HDL (good) cholesterol while also improving the body’s ability to remove cholesterol (4Trusted Source).

Beer can help you live longer

A 2016 study of 80 000 adults conducted by the Pennsylvania State University found a pint or two a day could help reduce the risk of having a stroke or developing cardiovascular disease. 

The research, conducted among Chinese adults, discovered that a moderate daily alcohol intake (most visible with beer) helps slow the decline of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol, better than not drinking at all.

Though light to moderate beer intake has potential benefits, it’s important to note that heavy intake and binge drinking can be extremely harmful.

However, long-term use can lead to alcohol dependence and can cause many serious side effects. These include malnutrition, memory loss, mental problems, heart problems, liver failure, inflammation of the pancreas, cancers of the digestive tract, among other things.

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