Good news for fans of the fermented, bubbly, bitter brew: beer is good for you.
When it comes to the health benefits of alcohol, red wine gets all the glory. Sure, it contains those potent antioxidants which may improve longevity, but the secret to alcohol’s benefit is in the ethanol. Yes, that same element which makes you drunk can also make you healthy—when consumed in moderate amounts.
Small doses of ethanol have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease and type 2 diabetes while improving brain function as the body ages. One serving of alcohol a day—whether a shot of whiskey or a can of beer—can potentially offer the same benefit as the revered glass of red wine.
But wait, there’s more.
Hops, the green buddy flowers that give IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beers their biter punch, have a benefit of their own when incorporated into a bubbly brew: protecting bone health. They reduce the amount of calcium that is released from bones and supply a healthy dose of bone-strengthening silicone into the system.
Other vitamins like folate are present in beer, which can lower the risk of heart disease and LDL (the bad) cholesterol. As you might expect, the darker and richer the beer, the higher proportion of trace minerals and vitamins are likely to be found. “Empty calories” may not be so empty after all in your fave porter from the brewery down the street.
Now, don’t get too excited to rush out and fill your fridge with a new keg. Overconsumption is still just that: overconsumption.
A healthy limit for alcohol consumption (including beer) caps out at just 21 drinks per week for women and 35 drinks for men; that’s 3 or 5 drinks a day, respectively. So if you’re drinking enough to get a buzz going every day of the week, chances are that’s too much. But kicking back with a cold one on the porch or at the local dive bar now and again? Oh so good for you.