Happy Saint Patty’s Day: Beer Nutrition

By , About.com Guide

Beer and nutrition? You don’t usually see those two words together, but perhaps beer is a bit misunderstood. It may actually be good for you when consumed in very moderate amounts.

Beer has been brewed for just about as long as humans have been cultivating crops and is actually made with some very healthy ingredients. Those ingredients are hops, brewer’s yeast, barley and malt. There are different styles of beer and each style has a distinctive flavor and color. Tasting and learning about the different types of beer is as much fun as tasting and learning about the different types of wine.

Part of a Healthy Diet

Drinking one beer per day may be good for your health because it has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Why? Some experts suggest these reasons:
  • The folate found in beer may help to reduce homocysteine in the blood and lower homocysteine levels mean a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Lab studies have found constituents in beer that lower triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol in mice.
  • Drinking one beer per day reduces blood clotting so some studies found that cardiovascular patients who drank one beer per day also lived longer.

Other studies have found that women who consume one beer each day have improved mental health. Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages in moderation may also improve bone density.

Of course that doesn’t mean that if one beer is good, three or four must be better. That isn’t true. Drinking more than one beer or any alcoholic beverage per day can put too much alcohol in your system and that isn’t good for you. Heavy drinking has been associated with several health problems, so moderation is definitely the key with drinking beer. The studies also point to one beer per day as being beneficial, not drinking all seven beers in one day per week. That type of binge drinking will overload you system with alcohol too.

The benefits of beer nutrition probably have nothing to do with the alcohol and there are some low-alcohol beers and non-alcohol beers available which offer the same heart-protective effect as regular and light beers.

 

Nutrition Information

According to Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter, Trappist monks drank beer to sustain themselves during their Lenten fasts. They called their beer “liquid bread.”

We don’t tend to think much about the nutritional aspects of beer, but according to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one 12-ounce serving of regular beer has the following nutrients:

Beer is actually a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and niacin.

Drinking Too Much

While drinking one beer per day may improve your health, heavy drinking will not. In fact heavy drinking has the opposite effect. Heavy drinking is defined as more than 21 drinks per week for women and more than 35 drinks per week for men. Drinking heavily leads to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, pancreatic diseases, severe thiamin deficiency and some cancers.

Who Shouldn’t Drink Beer?

Beer drinking isn’t for every one. Some people have personal or religious reasons for not drinking beer or other alcoholic drinks. That’s OK. All of the health benefits of beer can be found in other foods beverages. The following people should not drink beer, or should speak with their doctor before drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages:
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not drink beer. Even small amounts of alcohol can damage a developing fetus.
  • Young people. In the United States the drinking age is 21, in Canada the drinking age is 18 or 19. Other countries vary.
  • People with liver, pancreatic diseases, or really, any type of chronic disease should speak with their doctor.
  • People with gout should avoid beer. Gout is very painful and is triggered by alcohol.
  • People taking any type of medications should speak with their doctor. This includes over-the-counter medications.

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Remember, “healthy drinking” is 1 for women, 2 for men a day.  After that, you’re just loading up on empty calories.  

According to the National Institutes of Health if you knock off 5 or more drinks — you raise your risk of death from a heart attack 30%.  And if you drive — you raise the risk of killing someone else.  If you drink to be cool –the Mom, wife, husband, son or daughter of someone you accidentally killed will beg to differ.

If you don’t drink –you get the same “healthy drinking” benefits from exercise & good nutrition.  

Happy & Healthy St. Patty’s Day, everyone!  🙂

MD

 

It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Nursing Home: More Binge Drinkers than in College Dorms, CDC Study

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Credit: Corbis

Nursing homes may house more frequent binge drinkers than college dorms.

In addition to finding that binge drinking is bigger than previously thought, a CDC report shows that while most binge drinkers are college students, those who binge most often are over 65.

More than 50 percent of the consumed alcohol in the United States is drunk while binge drinking, researchers found. The report revealed other surprises:

  • The income bracket with the most binge drinkers is well off, with incomes over $75,000
  • The poorest income bracket (less than $25,000) drinks the most per binge
  • people who binge are not alcoholics

BLOG: Human Drinking May Damage Memory

The survey of 457,677 Americans asked both how often people engaged in binge drinking, and how many drinks they downed in a single session.

Binge drinking is most common in the Midwest, with Wisconsin adults who indulge in the practice topping the charts at 25.6 percent. It’s lowest in Utah, at 10.9 percent.

NEWS: Light Drinking Said OK for Pregnant Women

Make no mistake, however: college-age young adults still drink a lot: 28 percent of those ages 18 to 24 said they binged on alcohol four times a month, averaging 9.3 drinks per binge. And more than 90 percent of the alcohol youth drink occurs during binges.

SOURCE: DISCOVERY CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL (CDC) LINK:  http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=11158 

“People who binge drink are not alcoholics. Give it time. Binge eaters eventually got added to the spectrum of eating disorders. Just give it time, I say. And let’s hope there is always someone available, who hasn’t been binge drinking, to drive these individuals home.  Oh wait.  The ones in the Nursing Home ARE already home.  Come to think of it, so are the ones in Dorms.  O.K. Party on, then!!” ~Maria Dorfner