Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” For sure, men love their alcohol: The average American guy drinks about 23 gallons of beer, 15 pints of wine and 10 pints of spirits every year. All in all, each year, about 200 million barrels (that’s 6.2 billion gallons) of beer are produced, and we buy about $116 billion worth of alcoholic beverages.
Beer: the next health drink?
Sometimes, beer loves us back too: Studies have suggested that, when consumed in moderation, beer has many health benefits.
For instance, moderate amounts of alcohol may be good for the heart. An Emory University study involving over 2,200 elderly men and women discovered that those who consumed at least 1.5 drinks daily had up to a 50% lesser risk of suffering from heart failure. Another study conducted by Germany, France and the United Kingdom found that moderate consumption of beer or wine may have anti-inflammatory properties, which can lower the risk coronary heart disease. The French, who drink lots of red wine and have the highest per capita alcohol consumption, actually have one of the lowest rates of coronary heart disease mortality.
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Beer can also be good for your brain. Using an MRI, a Boston scientist discovered that light drinkers (one to six drinks a week) to moderate drinkers (seven to 14 drinks a week) have fewer strokes than nondrinkers — probably because of alcohol’s effect in thinning the blood and preventing the formation of tiny blood clots in the brain. Note, however, that although heavy drinkers (more than 15 drinks a week) have the least amount of strokes, they also suffer the most atrophy or wasting of brain tissues.
Moderate amounts of alcohol can also help reduce stress, decrease anxiety and self-consciousness, and improve your mood. Beer in particular has plenty of nutrients, such as protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, niacin, and riboflavin.
What About Low-Calorie Beers?
The main thing there is to know about low-calorie beers is that they come with lower alcohol content, we’re talking below 5 percent ABV. So yes, you can pick up a brew with an appealing calorie count you’re worried about that kind of thing. The drawback is that because of the lower alcohol content, it leaves the possibility that you’ll drink even more beer looking to achieve the same buzz.
But if you just one to pop a cold one — or maybe two — you can still deluge without tossing your diet to the wind.
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Beer can also be unhealthy
Before you go out and celebrate with a few pints, keep in mind that all of the studies above point out that beer is only healthy if you drink moderately. Some scientists even consider the health benefits of alcohol for moderate drinkers to be controversial due to the variations in the methodologies of the studies.
What all doctors and scientists agree on, however, is that the health risks of drinking larger amounts of alcohol will quickly outweigh its benefits; and to make matters worse, alcohol can impair your judgment, thus making it hard for you to stop at just a drink or two.
One of the most common harmful effects of alcohol is on the liver, the organ that removes toxins from the body. In the liver, enzymes first convert alcohol into acetaldehyde, a chemical intermediate that can cause nausea, headache, vomiting, and other bad effects of alcohol ingestion. During this step, a molecule called NADH is also produced.
Tips for beer lovers are up next in this look at liver health…
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