All things in moderation of course, so if we consume any alcoholic beverage excessively we’re not doing the best for our health. That said, apparently there are some health benefits to moderate beer consumption in a diet, aside from it making us happy, which is never a bad thing.
Though one might consider the more complex flavors and aromas of ale as evidence of greater potential nutrition compared to lagers, their is no official consensus of the benefits of one style over the other. However, the report mentioned below does touch on the greater concentration of flavonoids in stout beers versus lagers, which may indicate that heartier beers have greater health benefits.*
The most current understanding of the health benefits of beer and hops comes from a report from scientists participating in a recent 2012 international Beer and Nutrition conference hosted by the University of Copenhagen. The report suggests these health benefits of beer:
- Beer can help prevent cardiovascular disease in men over the age of 35 and women over the age of 45. (The report indicates that consistent consumption of “1 or 2 units” per day is more effective. So 10 beers drunk over the weekend does not equal the benefits of 10 beers consumed evenly throughout the week. Also, the report states that while wine was once thought to be better for cardiovascular health, new studies show “that a moderate consumption of beer and wine are associated with the same reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.”)
- Moderate alcohol consumption lowers the risk of diabetes, while large consumption or no consumption increases the risk.
- Beer can lower the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women who have passed menopause.
- Beer contains 5% of the RDA of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Niacin, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Magnesium and Silicon. Wine contains significantly less of these, but more iron and copper
- Some substances in Hops can have beneficial effects against a number of diseases, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and age related diseases like Alzheimer’s. Hops also has certain antioxidant qualities
The report does not indicate in what form the hops were used for the tests, and how many of the substances contained in hops would actually survive the brewing and filtering process. Also, with regard to flavonoids in ales and lagers, the report states “It is possible that filtering and [over or under] fermentation can also affect the nutritional content of beer, but there is no analysis of it.”
The report is available in Danish, but you can read the 2012 international Beer and Nutrition conference report yourself by downlading the PDF, then translating the doc by uploading to Google Translate. Click “translate a document” beneath the text field, browse your computer for the PDF, then click the blue “Translate” button at the top of the page.
Some potential drawbacks to consuming beer exist as well. For example, someone who is gluten intolerant may be adversely affected by traditional ales and lagers, depending on the level of intolerance.
Most good beers contain carbohydrates, and an overabundance of carbs can tend to inhibit one’s ability to lose weight if they are on a diet. However, just drinking a low carb beer isn’t a magic key to weight loss. Consider drinking more tasty beers, fewer of them, and focusing on other dietary and lifestyle changes that may help you achieve your weight loss goals.
The bottom line is if you enjoy beer, and have no adverse effects with regard to gluten intolerance, and no other medical reasons or professional advice to avoid alcohol in general, moderate, consistent enjoyment of beer can actually help you out in the long run.
So cheers! Here’s to life, health… and beer!