Skip to content

Celebrating National Beer Day? To Reap Possible Health Benefits Moderation is Key

April 7, 2015
Find Rob Masterson, RD, CNSC on Twitter @RobMastersonRD

Today marks National Beer Day here in the United States. If we consider the fact that American’s already consume quite a bit of the brew year-round (U.S. beer sales in 2013 were over $100 billion), it’s evident that many celebrate WITH this beverage on a pretty regular basis. April 7th is the day this particular beverage is celebrated itself, however.

Why this particular day, you ask? Quite simply, this was the date in 1933 in which it was again legal to buy and sell beer after the days of prohibition and thus, an unofficial holiday ever since.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BEER AND WINE

Alcohol does have potential health benefits, particularly with heart health, although the evidence is diminishing (see this USA Today editorial for more). Some studies have reported that alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, have been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. A reduction in the risk of heart attack, due to alcohol’s anticoagulant effects has also been touted.

Other benefits that moderate alcohol consumption may offer include a reduction in the risk of stroke, a lower risk of diabetes, and a lesser risk of gallstones. Besides the lowered risk of the aforementioned diseases, beer and wine also provide some nutrition. Beer, for instance does provide some vitamins such as folate, vitamin B6 and B12, niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. In terms of minerals, both beer and wine offer some fluoride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and silicon.

Of course, it is worth noting that the nutrients and possible benefits found in alcohol can easily be obtained through other foods and beverages and the potential benefits are wiped out completely when alcohol is consumed in excess.

MODERATION IS KEY

Although alcohol does hold several possible health benefits, it’s important to point out that these benefits only stand when consumption is in moderation. What is moderate? According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that’s one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men and only by adults of legal drinking age. A single drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 fluid ounces of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof (40% alcohol) distilled spirits.

Because alcohol consumption can be a slippery slope, it’s vital to stick to recommendations of drinking amounts in order to reap the benefits rather than over-consuming, which will wipe nearly all health benefits away.

BENEFITS VS. RISKS

If you already abstain from alcohol, keep it that way. It’s highly unlikely that any health professional would advise you start drinking to inherit the possible benefits. Many would argue (myself included) that the risks far outweigh any benefits and that abstinence is likely the best route. Here are some common risks, both immediate and long term, associated with heavy alcohol consumption:

Increased risk of:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Upper GI cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer (even at moderate consumption)
  • Impaired short-term and long-term cognitive function

RESOURCES

For more info, check out the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website on alcohol and public health or their alcohol fact sheets.

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

Have an opinion about the potential health benefits of alcohol? How about the risks? Please feel free to voice your views on the topic in the comment section.


Rob Masterson on Twitter.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: