The ancient Egyptians traced back its creation to none other than the gods Osiris and Isis and the Vikings, to explain its origin, even brought into play the god Odin. We are talking about beer, one of the most loved drinks all over the world. But is beer only a voluptuous pleasure or can, with the necessary precautions, also be part of a healthy lifestyle? In fact, in recent years, more and more studies have focused on trying to understand the best lifestyle and food choices to protect health and decrease the risk of disease. Today we can shed light on the properties of beer thanks to a very recent review published by a Spanish team in the Nutrients magazine (Marcos et al, Nutrients, March 2021).
The beneficial properties of beer
Beer is consumed in large quantities all over the world. It is estimated that, in 2018 alone, the average consumption of beer in Europe was 72 liters per person! The point is that beer, in addition to containing amino acids, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, is also an alcoholic drink, with an alcohol content ranging from 3% to 6%, and scientists still do not agree on the possible health effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption. That is why the Spanish researchers have tried to bring more clarity by analyzing the results of previous studies. What emerged was that moderate beer consumption is protective for heart health, since beer reduces the stiffness of blood vessels and blood pressure and increases HDL cholesterol thanks to the synergistic action of its active ingredients. Not only that, moderate beer consumption has also been shown to decrease the risk of developing diabetes and to increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures with advancing age.
Beer, be careful not to overdo it
The article underlines that the maximum protective effect was observed with a low beer consumption, around 80 grams of alcohol per week, which corresponds to 6 beers of 0.33 and 5% of alcohol content per week. But, it is important that alcohol consumption is spread over the week and not accumulated over a day or two. This therefore means that within a healthy lifestyle even beer, if taken in moderation, can find a place, but be careful not to overdo it! The same studies in fact warn that if you drink too much beer, but this happens also with any alcoholic beverage, the protective effect disappears and increases the risk of developing diseases such as tumors. This is true for men and even more for women. In fact, as has been observed, women are more sensitive than men both to the beneficial effects of a low consumption of beer but also to the damage that an excess of beer can bring. In addition, high beer consumption has been shown to increase overweight, waistline and type 2 diabetes risk, also in men.