Drinking wine in moderation is associated with some health benefits, but drinking beer is usually associated with a beer belly. However, drinking beer in moderation can actually provide some health benefits similar to wine. Beer is made from hops, grains and yeast. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from these foods get absorbed into beer during processing.
Drinking too much beer can of course lead to the infamous beer belly and increase risk for heart disease, liver injury and many more adverse conditions.
The key with any alcohol intake is to stay within the recommended intake of up to one drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men.
If you are drinking beer, a drink serving is defined as 12 ounces of beer. Stay within this amount for health benefits from beer; going over this amount can increase risk of harm.
Keep in mind drinking beer can also encourage food intake; so watch what you are eating with your beer.
Heart Health Benefits from Drinking Beer?
Research studies looking at the effect of moderate alcohol intake suggest drinking in moderation may help lower risk for mortality by lowering risk for heart disease and diabetes.
This benefit appears to be regardless of if the alcohol is wine, beer or spirits. The relationship of moderate alcohol is probably strongest tied to lowering risk of cardiovascular disease, as over 100 studies have shown a benefit for lowering risk of cardiovascular disease from moderate alcohol consumption.
B vitamins, potassium and silicon
Beer is a natural source of B vitamins, but the alcohol in beer actually inhibits the absorption. So even though there is some amounts of B vitamins in beer, it does not translate into a significant amount the body can use.
B vitamins are found in many other foods and are absorbed more readily. In fact, drinking too much alcohol can increase risk for B vitamin deficiencies.
B vitamins have many important roles in the body including helping the body break down carbohydrates and fat for fuel as well as playing an important role for the nervous system.
Beer contains a small amount of potassium. Potassium is needed for fluid regulation in the body and helps with nerve signaling. Other foods like fruits and vegetables are much higher in potassium, so drinking beer in moderation will only add a small amount to your daily needs.
Where beer seems to shine in terms of vitamin or mineral content is being a significant source of silicon. Silicon can help increase bone density, and a 2010 study suggests beer made from malted barley and hops contain a high amount of silicon.
Red wine is more commonly known for being high in antioxidants. The antioxidants from wine come from the grapes, which are a rich supply of many different antioxidants.
Beer actually contains a similar amount of antioxidants compared with wine, they are just different types. The barley and hops used for making beer provide a source of antioxidants.
Many foods contribute antioxidants to the body including whole grains, legumes, fruits and veggies. Eating a diet high in antioxidants can help lower risk for chronic diseases.
Beer can be a source of soluble fiber, which is needed to help control blood cholesterol levels and balance blood sugar levels.
In general, darker beers will probably have a higher fiber content. Other sources of soluble fiber include legumes, oats and fruits.
Lowering risk of kidney stones
There are many things that can influence kidney stone risk, but drinking a higher amount of fluids, getting higher amounts of potassium and magnesium may help lower risk.
A 1999 study also found that drinking beer could help men lower risk of getting kidney stones.
Magnesium intake and drinking beer were inversely associated with kidney stones in over 27,000 male Finnish smokers over 5 years.
Should you start drinking beer?
Most health experts suggest to not start drinking alcohol if you don’t right now. There is a fine line between getting a moderate amount, which is associated with some health benefits, and getting too much.
Too much alcohol is associated with many adverse health conditions. If you cannot drink in moderation, the best advice is total abstinence. Drinking alcohol may also be contraindicated with some medications and health conditions.
Moderate alcohol consumption, whether in the form of wine, beer or spirits, is associated with lowering mortality risk especially for cardiovascular disease.
The key is to stay with the moderate dose, as drinking more than moderation increases risk for cardiovascular disease and other negative health effects.
Beer provides a source of antioxidants in a similar amount to wine. Beer also contains silicon which is needed for increasing bone mineral density, and it can be a source of soluble fiber and potassium. Beer does provide some B vitamins as well, but the alcohol can diminish absorption.
References used in this article