8 Unexpected Benefits Of Beer That Will Give You A Great Excuse To Drink More

1/27/14 10:17AM EST

8 Unexpected Benefits Of Beer That Will Give You A Great Excuse To Drink More 8 Unexpected Benefits Of Beer That Will Give You A Great Excuse To Drink More

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Beer is an amazing thing, and not just for the reasons you think about on Friday nights. Numerous studies show that beer actually has a lot of unexpected health benefits, from promoting heart health to strengthening bones.

The catch is that the benefits apply only to moderate drinking, typically defined as one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. Drinking more than that can lead to negative consequences that far outweigh any benefits.

And no, you can’t get a week’s worth of health benefits all in one night. Dr. Eric Rimm explained, “Someone might say, ‘I’m going to live it up and drink a six-pack on Friday night when the Red Sox are playing and not drink the rest of the week.’ You won’t get the same benefit.”

Regardless, here are some reasons to crack open one or two brewskis tonight.

1. Lower Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

A study in 2000 compared the health benefits of beer to those of wine and spirits, and researchers found that moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage resulted in lower rates of cardiovascular disease. A Harvard report agreed, stating that moderate drinking is linked to a lower risk of many heart problems, including heart attack, clot-caused stroke, and death from all cardiovascular causes. Risks were reduced by 25 to 40 percent.

2. Protein And B Vitamins

The study from 2000 stated that beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine. Another study from the same year showed that beer boosts vitamin B6 levels by about 30 percent. Beer has also been found to be a good source of vitamin B12 and folic acid.

3. Antioxidant Power

Wine gets all the credit when it comes to antioxidants. But the 2000 study determined that beer has an antioxidant level equal to that of wine. The specific antioxidants are different, but beer is just as effective at slowing down cell damage. One doctor recommends dark beers for the greatest antioxidant power.

4. Bone Health

Beer is high in silicon, a nutrient that facilitates bone growth. Studies show that people who drink beer in moderation have increased bone density and improved bone strength, especially important as people grow older. Dr. Katherine L. Tucker said, “Moderate alcohol consumption is good for the heart, but it’s also reliably associated with protecting the bones, which start to get more porous as we age… If you drink, one or two drinks a day definitely improves your bones.”

5. Cognitive Function

One study found that women who enjoyed light or moderate levels of alcohol each day had a 20 percent lower risk of reduced mental abilities later in life. The study said the benefit was a result of improved blood flow, the same reason beer can protect the heart. And while the study only included women, doctors hypothesized that the results would hold true for men as well.

6. Lower Risk Of Kidney Stones

A recent study found that people who frequently drink beer have a 41 percent reduced risk of developing kidney stones. Wine also reduced the risk, but only by about 32 percent.

7. Lower Risk Of Diabetes

A 2010 study from the American Diabetes Association found that moderate drinking could reduce the risk of diabetes. The study concluded that when men who were light drinkers increased their alcohol consumption to one or two drinks a day, risk of developing type 2 diabetes was lowered by 25 percent.

8. Increased Life Span

The USDA reports that moderate drinking correlates to a longer life in general. The association estimates that moderate alcohol consumption and its resulting benefits are responsible for reducing annual deaths by 26,000.

 
 
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