The Lowdown: Is Beer A Healthy Drink?

It’s likely that when you’re asked whether you’d like red or white, you go for the dark shade of wine because its health benefits are so praised. But next time someone offers you the choice between wine or beer, don’t rule out the latter. Though red vin gets a lot of attention, it turns out beer has a few advantages of its own when had in moderation. To help you decide if you should ditch the stemmed glass for the tinted bottle, here’s the scoop on ale’s positive (and negative) effects on the body.

The Pros

Most beer is made from grains (like barley and wheat), water and yeast. And some of the vitamins and antioxidants in these ingredients can survive the fermentation process and end up in your body. Some researchers have found that light beer drinkers decrease their chance of developing a stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dementia. Moderate consumption has also been shown to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad (LDL). There may even be a connection between the occasional guzzle and longevity!

The Cons

As much as many of us wish it was, alcohol is not a health food and it can cause some bodily issues. Excessive drinking can be hard on the liver, dehydrating and turn into an addictive habit. Alcohol in general is very acidic and can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Studies have found that as little as one drink a day can increase the risk of breast and gastric cancer, as well as high blood pressure, which kinda overrides the health benefits above. And lets not forget the dreaded beer belly. Though fat free, alcohol has empty calories, so drinking too much will lead to a bloated look.

Moderation is the Key

Ultimately, most forms of alcohol are okay to indulge in occasionally, and sensibly. Enjoy in moderation with friends, which means about one serving (12 ounces) a day for women and two servings for men. When given the option, select a high quality beer: Organic, sulfite-free and/or craft are the ideal choices (or make your own!). Gluten-free beer is also a nice choice, especially for those that are sensitive to certain grains. A well-balanced diet should be your top priority. The healthier your body is the better it can handle periodic treats like ale.

Image credit: Adam Fagen