Since we're in the midst of Oktoberfest beer drinking lately, I was wondering how healthy is beer? What I found is that, light to moderate beer drinking can have many health benefits because human body naturally needs some of the ingredients found in beer. Now, I'm not telling anyone who has a problem with alcohol abuse to drink beer for their health either. How about a little history. Beer has been brewed for just about as long as humans have been cultivating crops, (what a surprise!) and is actually made with some very healthy ingredients. Beer is one of the world's oldest beverages, with the history of beer dating back to 6000 BC, and was recorded in the written history of Ancient Iraq. Beer was part of the daily diet of Egyptian Pharaohs over 5,000 years ago, and around 6,000 years ago, ancient Chinese civilizations were also brewing a beer.
The hydrometer transformed how beer was brewed. Before its introduction beers were brewed from a single malt: brown beers from brown malt, amber beers from amber malt, pale beers from pale malt. Using the hydrometer, brewers could calculate the yield from different malts. They observed that pale malt, though more expensive, yielded far more fermentable material than cheaper malts. Prior to prohibition, there were thousands of breweries in the United States, mostly brewing heavier beers than most Americans are used to. Beginning in 1920, most of these breweries went out of business. Bootlegged beer was watered down to increase profits, that's what started the trend, of American's preferring weaker or light beers. Modern thinking is that drinking one beer per day, may be good for your health because it has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers suggest these reasons:
- The folate found in beer may help to reduce homocysteine in the blood and lower homocysteine levels mean a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Lab studies have found constituents in beer that lower triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol in mice.
- Drinking one beer per day reduces blood clotting so some studies found that cardiovascular patients who drank one beer per day also lived longer.
Alcohol use in moderation improves good cholesterol and prevents blood from clotting in a way similar to aspirin. Ingredients in beer like B vitamins or folates and have been shown to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood and reduce heart disease risk. Phytoestrogens from hops in beer, used in the brewing process, prevent bone loss. Beer has also a relaxing effect on the body thereby reducing stress and helping you sleep better. An ingredient of beer may someday help ward off prostate cancer, new animal experiments suggest. The compound, xanthohumol, is found in hops. It is the bitter flavoring agent in beer, and is known to block the male hormone testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone which plays a role in the development of prostate cancer. The healthy ingredients in beer are hops, brewer's yeast, barley and malt.
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