Most health advice has us feeling guilty over our indulgences, even if we don’t enjoy them that often. Fortunately, having a few beers now and again is one nice little treat that you don’t have to feel bad about. In fact, beer can actually be good for your health when consumed in the proper amounts.
Potential Health Benefits Of Beer
If you’re an occasional beer drinker, you may have been doing something good for your health without even realizing it. Here are the potential health benefits of drinking beer in moderation:
- Better heart health: Those who drink a moderate amount of beer have been found to have a 31 percent lower risk for heart disease than those who don’t. Beer has also been found to reduce the risk of heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease by up to 40 percent. This is especially good news for those who have been drinking wine for these benefits, but would have preferred a nice cold beer.
- More “good” cholesterol: Also leading to a healthier heart is the higher “good” cholesterol levels, which may result from drinking beer. Studies have found that moderate beer drinking can help increase a person’s levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol that helps prevent clogged arteries.
- Reduced risk of stroke: A moderate amount of alcohol (including beer) is good for preventing stroke. That’s because the drinks help prevent blood clots from forming and restricting blood flow to the heart, neck and brain.
- Cancer prevention: Though more research is needed, preliminary studies have found that a compound found in hops (which are used to make beer) may help to inhibit enzymes that trigger cancer. That same compound is also suspected to play a role in destroying carcinogens. Typically, microbrews are made with much more hops than mass-produced beers.
- More vitamin B6: Beer drinkers have 30 percent more vitamin B6 in their blood than non-beer-drinkers and twice as much as those who drink red wine. That’s good news considering that vitamin B6 is essential for brain function, energy and fighting off disease.
- Healthier kidneys: Those who drink moderate amounts of beer are much less likely to get kidney stones. In fact, the risk of kidney stones drops by about 40 percent for men if they are beer drinkers as opposed to non-beer drinkers.
- Stronger bones: It turns out that drinking beer can lead to healthier bones. Studies have found that older individuals who drinking one or two beers a day have higher bone density. This is largely due to the fact that beer (especially pale ales) has a lot of silicon, which is great for bone health.
- Sharper mental faculties: Some studies have found that older women who consume moderate amounts of alcohol experience better preservation of their mental abilities as they age. In fact, one study discovered that the risk of mental decline was reduced by as much as 20 percent by drinking about one beer a day.
- More antioxidants: Beer has plenty of antioxidants, which help reverse cellular damage. For this health benefits, it’s better to have a dark beer since they have more antioxidants than light beers.
How Much Should You Drink?
Most of the health benefits of drinking beer are correlated to drinking a maximum of one serving of beer per day for women and two beers a day for men. A serving should be considered 12 ounces. Unfortunately, a person may experience a decrease in health when the number of daily drinks exceeds four or five beers. In addition, studies have found that it’s more important to drink moderately at least three or four days a week than to just indulge on seven or eight beers over the weekend. The health effects are clearly linked to regular consumption and not sporadic consumption.
Risks To Be Aware Of
Naturally, there are also major risks to drinking alcohol. To begin with, regular alcohol consumption could escalate to alcohol abuse or even alcoholism, both of which are associated with a number of negative health effects. In addition, irresponsible drinking and driving leads to over 16,000 deaths per year according to Harvard’s School of Public Health. The same source reports that 1 in 3 cases of violent crime involve alcohol. There are also other risks to consider, such as the fact that drinking alcohol can actually increase the risk of breast cancer in women. It’s important to consider your personal health risks and your genetics when deciding whether to drink beer regularly and how much you should drink.
Although it’s nice to hear that you can drink a beer or two a day guilt-free, it’s important to consider whether the health benefits are worth the risks. If you’re not sure about your alcohol consumption and its effects on your health, seek advice from a medical professional.