Beer has become one of the most popular and consumed alcoholic beverages, not only because of its characteristic taste and its great refreshing power, but also because of the different nutritional qualities and benefits it provides. However, we must not forget that it is an alcoholic drink, so its consumption should always be moderate and never excessive.
Having said that, it is true that, from a nutritional point of view, it is not the same to drink wine or beer as other alcoholic beverages such as rum or liqueurs, which contain a higher alcohol content. In fact, the latter tend to contain a high alcohol content, which is harmful to the body when drunk in excess, and in addition to containing only empty calories they do not provide any essential nutrients to our body.
Thus, we can talk for example about the different benefits of wine that brings us the best wines we can find that is a heart healthy drink, which taken in moderation (maximum 1 glass of wine a day, and provided it is not contraindicated) is extremely rich in polyphenols. A group of antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease and the development of cancer, as well as improve arthritis and reduce hypertension. In addition, it is especially helpful for high cholesterol, improves blood circulation in the brain, and increases estrogen levels.
But, we repeat, any drink containing alcohol is not beneficial to health, since although it may provide us with nutritional benefits, the effects of alcohol on our body do not precisely compensate for these qualities. This time, however, we want to find out what properties beer has for us.
What is beer?
Beer is also a nutritious drink, which provides interesting nutritional benefits. However, as long as it is consumed in moderation and is not abused (many nutritionists recommend drinking a glass of beer a day).
It is basically a bitter-tasting alcoholic beverage made from water, barley, yeast and hops. The starch in the sprouted barley grains is fermented in water with yeast, and finally flavoured with hops.
It has an alcohol content that ranges between 3% and 9%, although there are beers that can reach about 30% vol.
What are the ingredients used to make the beer?
There are basically 4 ingredients used in the traditional way to make beer. Do you want to know what they are?
Water: It is the main element, since it makes up about 90% of this drink, and without it, beer would not exist. Its taste will depend on the water used in its production, although the ideal is that the water used is rich in calcium, chlorides and sulphates.
Barley: It is the ingredient that gives color and body to the beer. To use it, it is first moistened, dried and toasted to different degrees (which then influences its organoleptic properties; that is, taste, aroma and color).
Yeast: There is no doubt that brewer’s yeast brings incredible benefits to our health. In this case, yeast is also a fundamental ingredient, since it has the particularity of converting fermentable sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Hops: It is fundamental in promoting the activity of malting yeast, and is the “culprit” of its delicious bitter taste. It also helps to preserve it better.
All the benefits of beer
A very nutritious drink
Apart from its alcohol content, beer is made from hops, barley, yeast, malt and water, all ingredients that make it a nutritious and healthy drink.
For example, from a nutritional point of view, beer is very rich in group B vitamins, with the presence of folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) being particularly noteworthy.
It also provides interesting amounts of minerals, among which we find mainly calcium and magnesium. However, its mineral contribution depends directly on the water used in its preparation.
On the other hand, did you know that beer is also rich in fiber and antioxidants? Fiber, in fact, is fundamental as you are sure to know for the proper functioning of our intestinal transit, in addition to helping us prevent constipation. While, antioxidants, are especially recommended when it comes to preventing the negative action of free radicals.
Interesting heart-healthy benefits
Beer is a drink made from healthy ingredients, such as hops, barley, brewer’s yeast and malt, as we mentioned in the previous section.
This means that beer is a heart healthy drink, helping in a very positive way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as well as lowering triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. As demonstrated by a study carried out in 2012.
But this heart-healthy quality doesn’t stop there, as it also helps increase HDL cholesterol, also popularly known as good cholesterol.
It reduces blood clotting, and thanks to its folic acid content it is suitable for reducing blood homocysteine levels (an amino acid used as a vascular marker and predicts the risk of a heart attack).
Stronger, healthier bones
Beer is tremendously rich in silicon, which helps promote the density of our bones and is useful precisely in preventing bone loss. This is why it is often said that beer is good for menopause, because it not only improves its symptoms (by promoting phytoestrogens), but also prevents osteoporosis.
Protects against Alzheimer’s
The aluminium present in both plasma and brain tissue is especially linked to certain neurodegenerative pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Thus, it has been discovered that the silicon found in beer helps protect us from neurodegenerative diseases by reducing the bioavailability of aluminium.
As we briefly indicated in a previous section, beer is tremendously rich in antioxidants. In fact, the presence of polyphenols (especially xanthohumol) makes this drink a drink with great antioxidant power.
Therefore it helps to reduce the levels of fats in the blood, prevents cardiovascular diseases, protects us from heart attacks and also reduces the negative action of free radicals.
You’ll love it: How to make craft beer at home
What does science say about the benefits of beer?
The truth is that, up to now, a wide range of scientific studies have been carried out in order to discover -and confirm- the supposed benefits that this ancient and ancestral drink brings us.
Like this, for example, one study published in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture showed that drinking a glass or two of beer a day helps make bones stronger, thanks to the fact that this drink is very rich in silicon (fundamental for building the mineral density of our bones).
Other scientific study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that beer helps to keep the mind more active, being useful to reduce the risk of mental problems typical of old age.
On the other hand, a study carried out by the University College of London found that, in reality, the so-called beer belly is a complete myth, with no direct association between beer and obesity.
Nutritional information on beer
A glass of beer provides the following nutrients:
Calories 47 kcal.
Proteins 0,5 g.
Carbohydrates 3,0 g.
Total fat 0 g.
Fiber 0 g.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamin B1 0.07 mg.
Calcium 3 mg.
Vitamin B2 0.38 mg.
Magnesium 36 mg.
Vitamin B3 9.5 mg.
Potassium 52 mg.
Sodium 2 mg.
How much beer is advisable to drink?
We must bear in mind that it is not the same to drink a beer with alcohol, than a beer without alcohol or opt for the new ones that you can currently find on the market called Beer 0º.
In case it is an alcoholic beer, many doctors and nutritionists recommend a daily consumption of one beer a day, since we must not forget that alcohol, consumed in excess, is extremely harmful to our organism.
This was indicated in a review published in the year 2015, which commented that “moderate consumption of beer within a healthy diet is appropriate”, provided that the person consuming it is a healthy adult, not recommending its consumption in the elderly, adolescents or pregnant women.
But the best thing to do, without a doubt, is to opt for non-alcoholic beer, which will allow us to enjoy the main benefits it brings us nutritionally. Therefore, its consumption with or without alcohol will depend on the personal taste of each person, and of course, in case there is no medical prescription that prohibits it (for example, in case of alcoholism or liver problems).
This article is published for information purposes only. It cannot and should not substitute for consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist.