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Non-alcoholic beer, what it is, benefits and warnings

July 30, 2023
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Non-alcoholic beer, what it is, benefits and warnings

Non-alcoholic beer can be a beneficial choice, it protects the heart and bones, keeps hydrated and improves sleep quality, without posing a health risk due to the absence of alcohol

Numerous scientific studies have shown that moderate consumption of beer is beneficial for heart and bone health. But… there is a but… the alcohol content of the beer. In fact, there are many who, for various reasons, have decided to limit their alcohol consumption. Precisely to meet an ever wider audience, the market is moving towards the so-called 0.0% alc, or non-alcoholic beers, whose production is destined to grow exponentially. At this point the question is a must. Are non-alcoholic beers healthy and with the same properties as conventional beers? And above all, are these beers really alcohol-free? Let's try to find an answer, based, as always, on the most interesting scientific research.

Non-alcoholic beer, does it really exist?

Beer, every type of beer that exists, is mainly composed of water.

Then, beer contains carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, vitamins, including folates, and polyphenols, which are precious antioxidants that mainly derive from hops and give the typical bitter taste. Finally, beer normally contains alcohol in an amount between 3.5 and 10%. And it is precisely the alcohol content that represents a major source of concern. For those with addiction problems, for those taking medications, or for those who consider alcohol a potential health risk. In fact, at the moment experts do not agree between those who say that alcohol in moderate quantities and well distributed over the course of the week does not cause harm and those who argue that any amount of alcohol can cause, in the long run, health problems such as cellular degeneration. Hence the choice to limit the intake of alcohol. Non-alcoholic beer is therefore created to respond to these precise needs, without renouncing the freshness and properties of the beer. There are several methods to extract the alcoholic component from beer, such as heating the beer under vacuum, so as not to reach too high temperatures and thus degrade the drink, or filtration processes in order to remove the alcohol and water, the latter is then added again. However, be careful. Not all beers thus obtained can truly boast of being non-alcoholic, even if they have 0.0% alc on the label. In fact, a lot also depends on the law of individual countries. Sometimes beer is considered non-alcoholic when the amount of alcohol is less than 0.5%, sometimes, as in the case of Italy, if it is less than 1.2%. However, there are other brands that report 0.0% alc on the label and actually have an alcohol content of less than 0.03% alc. In short, you need to pay attention and get well informed, reading the label and what is declared by the manufacturer, to be sure of what you are drinking!

Non-alcoholic beer, properties

First of all, it must be said that the amount of antioxidants contained in a non-alcoholic beer is lower than that of a conventional beer. In fact, the processes that lead to the removal of alcohol can partially degrade the polyphenols present. Still, non-alcoholic beer remains a healthy choice, especially for cardiovascular health. In fact, compared to conventional beer that contains alcohol, which is a substance known for its ability to increase free radicals, non-alcoholic beer has shown more potent properties when it comes to protecting the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels and the heart. Not only that, for the same reason it is more effective than beer with alcohol in counteracting free radical damage and thrombus formation (Sancen et al, Nutrients, 2023).

Moreover, since it is precisely the non-alcoholic part of beer, and in particular its polyphenols, that protect bones from the risk of osteoporosis, even in menopausal women, non-alcoholic beer is a drink that is useful for skeletal health. In addition, studies have shown that non-alcoholic beers are the best when it comes to hydrating and staying hydrated, even in the case of physical exercise and heavy sweating, since the carbohydrates and electrolytes present in beer help to better absorb water without the disturbing action of alcohol (Trius Soler et al, Molecules, 2020 - Mellor et al, Beverages, 2020). Non-alcoholic beer also helps improve sleep quality! In fact, beer is the only drink that contains hops, a plant with a sedative action. Studies have shown that drinking a non-alcoholic beer in the evening is able to improve the quality of sleep in research participants (Franco et al, Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 2014).

Non-alcoholic beer, warnings

As mentioned, care should be taken as not all beers that claim to be non-alcoholic are really so, reaching to contain alcohol even up to 2%. This can be a problem for those people who really have to abstain from alcohol for a variety of reasons.

Therefore, it is necessary to read the labels carefully, inquire well with the manufacturer and then ask your doctor for advice, in the event of a ban on drinking alcohol. In addition, it is also important to be well informed about the content of the beer because sometimes, some manufacturers, to preserve the taste of the beer that may have been compromised by the alcohol removal process, add sugars and this would end up increasing the calories of the drink. In any case, even non-alcoholic beer should be drunk in moderation, without exaggerating. Indeed, even if this drink does not contain alcohol, or does so in minimal quantities, this does not mean that it does not have an impact on blood sugar. Beer, even in the non-alcoholic version, has a high glycemic index and for this reason care must be taken, especially in the case of high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes (Lamiquiz Moneo et al, Nutrients, 2022).

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