Is Drinking Beer in Moderation Good for Your Health?

Beer may be good for your health when consumed in moderation.
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Beer has been brewed for just about as long as humans have been cultivating crops. It's made with some very healthy ingredients: hops, brewer's yeast, barley, and malt. Beer is a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and niacin. 

Drinking a beer or two per day may be good for your health. There are some studies that look at alcohol consumption, although they typically include all sources of alcohol, including wine and liquor.

A Norwegian study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2015 reported light to moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with a lower incidence of heart attacks.

Another study published in 2015 in the journal Current Obesity Reports said that light to moderate drinking wasn't related to weight problems, although the researchers reported heavy drinkers do tend to have weight problems.

Women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol may also be less likely to a develop diabetes, although a study published in Diabetes Care in 2015 said that benefit didn't apply to men who drank moderate amounts.

All in all, there are a number of studies that suggest light or moderate beer consumption might be beneficial, but I think it's important to remember that these studies look at correlations and not a direct cause. I mean maybe healthier people just happen to drink more or people who are not as healthy choose not to drink for health reasons.

So, if you don't drink beer now, you don't need to start just to get health benefits -- there are many other things you can do. Eat a healthier diet, consume fewer calories, exercise more and work on stress reduction.

Who Shouldn't Drink Beer?

Drinking beer isn't for everyone. For example, some people have personal or religious reasons for not drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages, and others just don't like the taste.

And of course, laws about drinking ages should be followed -- the drinking age in the United States is 21, the drinking age in Canada is 18 or 19. Other countries vary.

Also there are medical reasons why some people should stay away from drink beer, or at least speak with their doctor before drinking:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not drink beer. Even small amounts of alcohol can damage a developing fetus.
  • People with alcoholism or drug addictions should not drink beer.
  • Persons with liver or pancreatic disease should speak with their doctor.
  • Anyone with gout should avoid beer. 
  • People with diabetes should talk with their doctor.
  • Anyone taking medications, including over-the-counter drugs, should speak with their doctor. 

Beer Nutrition Information

Here's a breakdown of the nutrients found in one serving of beer, which is about twelve ounces or 356 grams. This general information is for most regular beers - but you should read the label to be sure of the exact calorie count because the nutrition information may be different for light beers.

Macronutrients

  • Calories: 153
  • Protein: 1.64 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 12.64 grams

Micronutrients:

  • Calcium: 14 milligrams
  • Iron: 0.07 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 21 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 50 milligrams
  • Potassium: 96 milligrams
  • Sodium: 14 milligrams
  • Zinc: 0.04 milligrams
  • Vitamin C: 0 milligrams
  • Thiamine: 0.018 milligrams
  • Riboflavin: 0.089 milligrams
  • Niacin: 1.826 milligrams
  • Pantothenic Acid: 0.146 milligrams
  • Vitamin B-6: 0.164 milligrams
  • Folate: 21 micrograms

Sources:

Gémes K, Janszky I, Laugsand LE, László KD, Ahnve S, Vatten LJ, Mukamal KJ. "Alcohol consumption is associated with a lower incidence of acute myocardial infarction: results from a large prospective population-based study in Norway." J Intern Med. 2015 Sep 14. 

Knott C, Bell S, Britton A. "Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-analysis of More Than 1.9 Million Individuals From 38 Observational Studies." Diabetes Care. 2015 Sep;38(9):1804-12. 

Traversy G, Chaput JP. "Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update." Curr Obes Rep. 2015;4(1):122-130. Accessed February 22, 2016.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Basic Report: 14003, Alcoholic beverage, beer, regular, all." 

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