23 Feb

Beer Boasts Some Surprising Health Benefits

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To some men, the major food groups include burgers, chicken wings and beer. Whether hanging out with buddies watching a game on TV or firing up the grill for a backyard barbecue, many men prefer beer as their beverage of choice in social settings. Though beer is not something many people associate with health, some might be surprised to learn that beer does provide some notable health benefits. Beer should always be consumed in moderation, but beer fans should know that those cold ones aren't just refreshing but potentially healthy as well.

Builds bone strength

A 2009 study from researchers at Tufts University determined older men and women who consumed one or two drinks daily had higher bone density. Beer contains silicon, which has been linked to bone health. Of the various types of beer, pale ale has been shown to have the highest concentration of silicon, so beer drinkers might want to enjoy a pale ale when having their next beer. Keep in mind, however, having more than two drinks has been linked to increased risk of bone fractures, so stick to one or two.

Antioxidant boost

Beer contains flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants that help to protect the body from disease. Dark beer contains more flavonoids than other varieties. Beer also contains vitamin B6. This is essential to making hemoglobin, the red protein in blood that also helps ferry oxygen around in the body. More oxygen helps muscles work more efficiently and has other health benefits.

Lowers heart disease risk

Dark beers have roughly one gram of soluble fiber in each 12-ounce serving. Various research suggests that consuming adequate amounts of soluble fiber through a healthy diet can help lower LDL, or "bad," cholesterol in the blood. Any source of alcohol, including beer or wine, increases the level of good cholesterol in the blood, too. Hops and the malt used in beer making also provide polyphenols, which are heart-healthy antioxidants.

Reduces risk for kidney stones

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, compounds in hops could help slow the release of calcium from bones, which may prevent kidney stone formation. A study in Finland singled out beer among other alcoholic drinks, finding that each bottle of beer men drank daily lowered their risk of developing kidney stones by 40 percent. Researchers suggest beer's high water content helps keep the kidneys working and flushing out the system.

Increases mental acuity

Beer may be associated with hazy thinking and forgetfulness the morning after consumption -- but that's only when consumers overindulge. A 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that examined the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive function found older women who consumed about one drink per day lowered their risk of mental decline by as much as 20 percent when compared to nondrinkers. Such benefits may be applicable to men as well.

Guards against stroke

According to researchers at Harvard School of Public Health, moderate amounts of alcohol, including beer, help prevent blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, neck and brain. These clots are contributors to ischemic stroke, which occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked.

Beer can also promote relaxation, reduce stress levels and help bring on a more restful sleep. The United States. Department of Agriculture also reviewed various studies that indicate moderate drinkers live longer than nondrinkers due to lower rates of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

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