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The Health Benefits Of Beer


In this edition of Vital Signs – beer. It has health benefits, provided you don’t drink too much of it. Navin Hariprasad, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, has details.

From Navin Hariprasad’s interview…

Something to keep in mind:  “The benefits versus the negative associations are all based on the amount of beer that you’re consuming, the frequency of consumption, as well as the circumstances.”

Health benefits in beer:  “Beer is made up of water, and then grain, which would be wheat and barley, and then hops and then yeast. So, a standard serving of beer is 12 ounces with a five percent alcohol content. That’s about one gram of fiber.

“The hops is actually the preservative in beer and helps to cut sweetness down in beer and provide a certain tase profile to your palette. It’s also a source of polyphenols, which is known to lower cholesterol, has some cancer fighting agents, as well as virus-killing compounds. The hops also help you slow down the release of calcium from your bones. So a high level of calcium could cause kidney stones.

“You also have the water content of the beer, which help to filter out your kidneys. The grain, which is the wheat and barley, is a carbohydrate, which we know provides some calories, some nutritional value, as well as B vitamins. The barley also provides soluble fiber.

“And then the yeast is a rich source of B complex vitamins, protein and minerals like chromium. It also has a probiotic that can help regulate your digestive system and maintain your nervous system.”

Doesn’t beer have a lot of calories? “A typical beer ranges from 120 to 150 calories versus a lighter beer that’s around 60 to 100 calories. But there’s not a significant differences from a regular versus a light beer. But ideally you want to stick to the lighter beer because of the calories.”

Are some beers better than others? “There’s been some studies that show that certain beers like stouts, porters and browns, which are all dark malts, contain a lot of antioxidants compared to lagers. You also have some pale ales which have a significant amount of hops per barrel compared to mass-produced lagers. The fermentation process varies based on the type of beer. But that affect more of the flavor profile versus the actual (health) benefits.”

What’s consider overindulging on beer? “For women, we recommend not more than one serving a day, and for men that’s two servings a day. So, a standard serving of beer would be 12 ounces with a five percent alcohol content.”

For more information:

The Truth About Beer 

Nutritional and Health Benefits of Beer 

Is Wine Fine, or Beer Better? 

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.