I confess. I get tired of scientific study after scientific study generating news report after news report on the “potential” health benefits of various alcoholic beverages, only to be couched in ultra-cautionary language about the dangers of alcohol and alcoholism. The usual tone of the article starts out something like “beer and/or wine shown to have significant health benefits,” only to morph into “but whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol because you might not be able to handle it… we don’t want to encourage anyone to become an alcoholic.”

Of course alcoholism is a serious disease and should not be taken lightly. But in reality, alcohol is simply something that can be used or abused, just like pain medicine, money, power, food, or just about anything else on earth. Most people only use all these things, and the small percentage who abuse them do not prompt cries of dire warning against anyone ever using them at all, unlike alcohol.

So, in doing my part to promote the responsible consumption of a perfectly legitimate consumer good that we in FTH all appreciate, I decided to collect a variety of info on the many health benefits of beer. I believe beer (and especially craft beer) truly is good for you, and I’m proud to say it.

We’ll start with the biggest beer health news of the year, which is that hops contain a compound called Xanthohumol which has cancer-fighting properties — http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051125105426.htm

Fizzy yellow macro lagers have very low hop rates, but craft beers like IPAs, double IPAs, and American Barleywines have TONS of hops. Thus drinking a Sweetwater IPA is going to put far more Xanthohumol into your body than a Corona.

Beer is rich in antioxidants — http://www.aim-digest.com/gateway/pages/general/articles/antiox/cider.htm. You’ve probably read/heard many stories on antioxidants in the past several years, but in a nutshell, “Antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage — the common pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases.” More info here: http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html

In moderation, beer is actually good for your kidneys — http://www.beerandhealth.com/index_eng.jsp?Page=Doc2138&Doc=alc_en_lichaam

It fights cardiovascular disease — http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=6917
And finally, beer yeast is an excellent source of B-complex vitamins and chromium, which

means that it helps your body cope with stress, recover from injuries, lower LDL cholesterol, and is good for diabetics. Of course all the yeast is filtered out of fizzy yellow macro lagers, but many craft beers are unfiltered and “bottle conditioned,” which means they are bottled with live yeast for carbonation — http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsSupplements/BrewersYeastcs.html

So you see, beer is the original health drink. Enjoy it responsibly, and have a toast to good health!

Email me at danner@freethehops.org if you know of other health benefits found in a glass of quality beer.