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Health Benefits of Beer

Red wine usually gets credit as the healthier tipple. But what about beer? Does it have any of the same health benefits that wine can confer? Or some of its own? Since Oktoberfest is upon us, I decided to find out. Beer does have some health boons (more on that below), but before raising a toast to this bubbly beverage, a caveat is in order: While moderate drinking can protect against some diseases, it can also increase your risk of certain diseases (women who drink any amount of alcohol, for instance, have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who are teetotalers). If you drink, make sure you stick to the recommendations for “moderate” drinking — no more than one drink a day for women, two for men. A drink counts as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol. Drink more than that and your risk for disease and ill health starts to jump.

Now for the good news:

It’s a hearty drink: Any type of alcohol in moderate amounts can help lower your risk of heart disease by helping to lower blood pressure and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol.

It has nutrients: Beer is made from grains, such as barley, so it makes sense that it contains some of the same nutrients you’d find in grains, including B vitamins, protein and even fiber. A 12-ounce beer has 1 to 2 grams of protein and up to 1 gram of fiber (which isn’t all that much, but still!). Darker beer tends to have more fiber than lighter beer.

It’s a bone builder: Beer contains silicon, a compound that helps create strong bones. Silicon is also found in cereals, whole grains and green beans. Beer also has phosphorous and magnesium — two other minerals in your body that are needed for building bones. Too much alcohol can weaken bones, though, so again, keep it moderate.

It lowers your risk of certain diseases: Like wine, moderate beer drinking is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. The antioxidants in beer are likely responsible for these effects. Beer is made from barley and hops, which give beer a different antioxidant profile than wine, which is usually made from grapes.

It’s hydrating: Since beer has less alcohol per volume than wine or spirits, a serving of it counts toward your total water intake for the day. Alcohol is dehydrating in larger amounts, though, so if you’re drinking more than one beer, or another type of alcoholic beverage, make sure to drink water too!

It’s good for your kidneys: Some research has shown that men who drink beer — compared with other types of alcohol — have a lower risk of kidney stones. Apparently the combination of high water content and being a diuretic might help keep kidneys healthy.

Prost!

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

Comments (327)

  1. Vida posted 09/23/2013

    Hmmmmmmmm good to know, thanks

  2. wkaplan1105 posted 09/24/2013

    Hops are not grains, but they do have their own set of health benefits as well…
    http://beerarmy.com/profiles/blogs/the-amazing-ho

    • guest posted 11/04/2013

      Nothing in the article said it was a grain…just that beer contained hops…

  3. MIKE posted 10/17/2013

    I LOVE BEER

  4. Chris posted 10/17/2013

    Body's instinct to consume beer is justified!

  5. billy posted 10/18/2013

    At last a post with comments where we won't have to call each other names

  6. tim posted 10/19/2013

    Only two a day

  7. JayPee posted 10/21/2013

    Or one Heady Topper. Max.

  8. Kevin posted 10/21/2013

    Does This Include Non-Alcohol Beer too? Like Coors N/A? Which benefits are lost with the lack of alcohol?

  9. Falcon195 posted 10/22/2013

    Read the bottle – ALCOHOL CAUSES CANCER. In fact, alcohol kills twice the number of people than heart disease and cancer combined. Does not matter if drinking beer, wine, or the 'hard stuff,' it is carcinogenic. (13-percent of breast cancers are clearly related to alcohol consumption.)

    • Drew posted 10/30/2013

      So you are saying that a whopping 87% of breast cancers are unrelated to alcohol consumption. Cheers to that! Science is fun! (Hidden agendas are stupid)

    • CmonNowREally posted 11/02/2013

      Being born related to dying.

    • Karl Leinfelder posted 11/29/2013

      You might now that there would be some sadist who had to say something bad about beer. Sure won't stop me from my two glasses every day.

    • GettaClue posted 12/10/2013

      So does the air we breathe and the water we drink and many of the chemicals that we call food, and yet you seem to persist in consuming all three.

  10. Falcon195 posted 10/22/2013

    The alcoholic beverage industry may be as guilty of killing people for profit as the tobacco industry. You might say it is a matter of choice but many people are no match against billons of dollars of highly manipulative advertising. This is no joke; millions of people are suffering and dying. Then there is the matter of fructose …

    • falconblows posted 11/10/2013

      and that air! It has bad stuff in it. People should stop breathing. We need more insightful people like Falcon to tell us why everything is terrible for you. Brilliant post, Dr. Prohibition. You sound like you're a fun guy to go out have a yogurt with.

    • Karl Leinfelder posted 11/29/2013

      If beer was not good for you I would have been dead a long time ago. Cheers!

  11. IZZY posted 10/23/2013

    THIS SEEMS JUST LIKE A PAID WRITER LOOKING FOR AN EXCUSE TO GIVE ME AN EXCUSE TO PICK UP A BLUE MOON WHILE IM AT WORK :)

  12. Christopher Bowman posted 10/23/2013

    i'll drink to that

  13. woody22 posted 10/25/2013

    Take that all you whine-o's!!!

  14. Scott Swann posted 10/26/2013

    @falcon195… people were drinking beer and using tobacco long before was any "highly manipulative advertising". It is a personal choice… if you don't like it, don't use it. Leave the rest of us alone to enjoy one of life's simple pleasures!

    • Falcon195 posted 10/26/2013

      Ok,

    • jrchambers posted 10/29/2013

      I wish it was as simple as that Scott. Non-drinkers are at the mercy of drunks on the road. Last week a pedestrian was walking home from work, not far from my house. The deceased was a college student walking home from his job at a fast food restaurant. (he was walking where pedestrians walk) Liquor has been a problem from day one. I would like to tell all drinkers: "Leave us alone!" The next thing I am going to hear will have to do with freedom. Drinkers are freedom stealers and peace disturbers. They rape, fight, destroy, molest, and leave places of celebration a shambles. The liquor industry does not care. They are only interested in their bottom line. Check out this statistic: 80% of all men encarcerated are there due to something that was done that was connected to alcohol abuse. One last thing: Did you know that sobriety is one of life's simple pleasures?

      • BCP posted 10/30/2013

        You are sadly mistaken on the statistics, how about you post a nice set of references to your 80% 'internet pulled out of my rear statistic'. Don't have one? Thought so. Prove it.

        • BCP posted 10/30/2013

          By the way I'd like to add I'm not a drinker at all myself, and am a firefighter. A large amount of incarcerated men have something to do with drugs or alcohol, it's true, but that is in large part due to the 'war on drugs' that has failed miserably. Using http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Drugs… as a reference, about 25-40% of criminals have their offences related to drugs or alcohol. Many criminals in order to get lighter penalties also claim drugs or alcohol played a part in their crimes, such as stealing or assaulting someone for their money in order to buy drugs when it was just plain pure greed, they are abusing the system. Got a source for yourself yet? No?

      • Drew posted 10/30/2013

        Then stay off the roads. Fun fact: there are less traffic fatalities then anytime since around 1950 even though there are many times more vehicles on the road. Check out this statistic: 100% of all men incarcerated drank water in their lifetime. Yep, you can skew things any way you like. Doing anything to excess is unhealthy and that includes sobriety…you're certainly proof of that.

    • jrchambers posted 10/29/2013

      The pedestrian I mentioned was killed by a drunk driver. The drunk driver had a record of multiple DUIs. His actions are everyone's business. Not just his.

      • Dan posted 10/30/2013

        You are talking about something completely different than enjoying a few drinks. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated is illegal, as it should be. So unless you are advocating the policy of complete abolition of the right to produce, distribute and consume alcoholic beverages, I have no idea what your point is. By the way, I believe they'be tried that before…….it didn't work out too well.

  15. [...] Now for the good news:It’s a hearty drink: Any type of alcohol in moderate amounts can help lower your risk of heart disease by helping to lower blood pressure and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol.It has nutrients: Beer is made from grains, such as barley, so it makes sense that it contains some of the same nutrients you’d find in grains, including B vitamins, protein and even fiber. A 12-ounce beer has 1 to 2 grams of protein and up to 1 gram of fiber (which isn’t all that much, but still!). Darker beer tends to have more fiber than lighter beer.  [...]

  16. Pam posted 10/29/2013

    ONE beer?!?! Hell with that!

    • Ricky E. Bobby posted 11/03/2013

      And its a boner buildier! Morning Wood anyone?

      • happy42xxx posted 12/04/2013

        I have always found it more of a bone reducer…esp after 8 or so…

  17. jrchambers posted 10/29/2013

    Pam…..that is one of the most honest statements I have read on these comments.

  18. boof! posted 10/30/2013

    I call bullshit. I like to sit down with a good porter or stout, but calling it healthy is wishful thinking. More like, in moderation, beer isn't necessarily -bad- for you.

    • Dan posted 10/30/2013

      I don't know that "healthy" is really the right way to look at it. But in moderation there can certainly be some health benefits, which go along with the obvious risks of consuming alcohol.

  19. Jay posted 11/05/2013

    It's not healthy to breathe our polluted air. It's not healthy to consume all the processed foods that bombard us. It's not healthy to be out in the sun for too long. It's not healthy to <add your own
    pet peeve>

    Sheesh, get over it already…

  20. Dave posted 11/05/2013

    I drink beer until my dog tells me to stop

  21. Hokie posted 11/05/2013

    To much beer also raises estrogen in men. Keep guzzling beer and wait for the man boobs to come.

  22. PM78 posted 11/05/2013

    "Beer also has phosphorous and magnesium — two other minerals in your body that are needed for building bones."

    Phosphorus (noun), not phosphorous (adjective)

  23. DrJ posted 11/05/2013

    Amusing! I do hope no one takes this seriously, though – some of the nutritional claims are ludicrous! "Silcon builds bones" ?? That's rocks, not bones. (Well, maybe in the writers head).

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  25. Mike E posted 11/06/2013

    So if I only count 2 beers, the first and the last, the ones in the middle are OK then?

  26. MiguelL posted 11/08/2013

    Unfortunately beer is not good if one suffers from gout.

  27. EricP posted 11/08/2013

    Most doctors would tell you that if you do not drink at all, it's much healthier to stay that way. Starting to drink 1 or 2 every day is not an advantage. It's just not necessarily that bad for you. They also discount the fact that you're drinking more calories, which is a good way to gain weight. I love beer, but I don't delude myself into thinking that drinking everyday is a smart decision.

  28. TKT posted 11/08/2013

    haha! Yeah, big disclaimer about this only being anywhere near relevant if you already drink. Anytime you add a substance known to kill your liver, you're decreasing your health outlook. With all the calories you're consuming through drinking beer, you could replace that with other foods that have the same beneficial properties, and making pseudoscientific claims that something "helps to build bones" just because it has substances in it that happen to be contained in bone is irresponsible and dangerous, because even though you add the disclaimer that too much can weaken bones, all that some people will see is that it "helps bones", without citing any actual research saying that it does.

    It begins to border on sheer stupidity when we decide to say that something that has a dangerous chemical in it is healthy for you because it also has beneficial nutrients. Horse crap also has plenty of fiber and other essential nutrients as well, and probably tastes about as good as beer… does anybody on here remember the first time they tried to choke down a beer, I mean before you "acquired" the taste and started to delude yourself into thinking it actually tastes decent…

    articles like this are an absolute joke… glad to see someone got paid for actually writing this…

  29. TKT posted 11/09/2013

    haha! Yeah, big disclaimer about this only being anywhere near relevant if you already drink. Anytime you add a substance known to kill your liver, you're decreasing your health outlook. With all the calories you're consuming through drinking beer, you could replace that with other foods that have the same beneficial properties, and making pseudoscientific claims that something "helps to build bones" just because it has substances in it that happen to be contained in bone is irresponsible and dangerous, because even though you add the disclaimer that too much can weaken bones, all that some people will see is that it "helps bones", without citing any actual research saying that it does.

  30. thesportgenius posted 11/29/2013

    TKT…you must really be the life of the party. Plenty of people that drink and smoke live into 90's, and plenty of people that eat organic food, exercise, and never drink booze get cancer and die in their 40's. How about just allowing people to live any way they want and take things a little more lightly. I took this article to be more comedic than serious scientific journalism.

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  33. PaleoCarl posted 12/07/2013

    OMG. Seriously, you call yourself a dietitian?!?! What's next, a glowing review of filtered cigarettes? You are at the heart of what's wrong with nutrition in America.

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  41. Pancho posted 12/10/2013

    Two beers a day? I'm up to 2012 already.

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