The average American male drinks approximately 23 gallons of beer per year, which creates a national demand of approximately 200 million barrels. Of course, since you’re on a beer blog right now reading this, it’s probably a safe bet that you drink a slightly higher than average amount of beer per year.
No matter how much you drink, there’s no denying that beer’s popularity continues to soar high. As such, so has the desire to drink a beer that won’t adversely affect your health. Past studies have suggested that the moderate consumption of beer can have some health benefits associated with it. While the term moderation may be defined differently by different people, the truth of the matter is that there are some beers out there that are “healthier” than others.
With the recent announcement that Australian scientists have created a beer with electrolytes, it got us thinking. What are the healthiest beers out there? After doing some digging around, here are four types of healthy beers and their alleged health benefits.
Beer has long been known to benefit heart health. In fact, a study from 2012 found that “moderate consumption of beer is associated with lower cardiovascular risk.” Researchers concluded that the natural antioxidants, known as phenols, found in many types of beer is behind the reason why heart function improved in the participants of the study.
The highest phenol concentrations are available in brews like Yuengling Light Lager, Abita Purple Haze and Left Hand Good Juju. Yuengling provides full flavor while staying light on calories. A typical glass of Yuengling Light Lager contains approximately 99 calories, and still contains those healthy phenol benefits.
Additionally, Abita includes real raspberries to its brew, which reduces the bitter taste of some ales. The berries also add extra antioxidants to your drink, which one would presume adds to the amount of heart health benefits. Left Hand Good Juju is made with fresh ginger – a superfood that is good for the heart. Good Juju is also light on calories, but doesn’t skimp on flavor.
For many Americans, staying healthy means following a diet free from grains, commonly referred to as a gluten-free diet. This is especially important for the estimated two million Americans that suffer from Celiac disease. The easiest way to treat this devastating gastrointestinal disease is to avoid gluten at every turn.
The good news is that gluten-free beers have been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years. However, depending on where you live, gluten-free beer can be somewhat tricky to find. Call your local craft beer store and inquire about their selection of gluten-free beers. Depending on whether or not they have the beer you’re looking for, it’s possible that they can special order it for you.
One delicious example of a gluten-free beer is from Lakefront Brewery, which produces a popular pale gold beer called New Grist. This beer is brewed from rice and gluten-free yeast grown on molasses. It was also the first beer to have its label approved as gluten-free.
Dogfish Head also has a popular gluten-free beer called Tweason’ale. Instead of barley, Dogfish uses a sorghum syrup base with touches of strawberries, molasses and buckwheat honey. While it’s only a seasonal brew, it’s worth a try if you come across it. Another excellent gluten-free beer is Bard’s Original Sorghum Malt Beer. Created with sorghum syrup instead of grain syrup, this beer resembles a traditional wheat ale and rivals the originals in both taste and scent.
In a happy turn of events, researchers in Boston have discovered that drinking beer may actually boost your brain health. According to a study with 3,660 participants, those that were light to moderate drinkers — less than 14 drinks per week — tended to have fewer strokes than non-drinkers. Researchers believe that this is due to alcohol having the ability to thin your blood, thus helping prevent the formation of blood clots. While more research is needed to show the extent to which beer helps, researchers did state that excessive drinking may cause atrophy of the brain. As the saying goes, everything in moderation, no matter how tasty it may be.
In addition, light consumption of beer may also help improve your mental health as well. Drinking beer in moderation is believed to help decrease anxiety and depression. Look for beers that contain plenty of nutrients like protein, Vitamin B, iron, niacin, riboflavin and magnesium. Most beers already carry these powerful ingredients along with others that help to boost your emotional state.
Of course, other studies have shown that alcoholism and excessive drinking may actually lead to depression and other related mental-illnesses, so make sure you drink responsibly. Drink with a friend who can hold you accountable to the amount of drinks you consume and encourage you to make healthy choices.
Technically, this type of beer isn’t out on the market yet, at least not that we know of. But, scientists in Australia recently announced that they have added electrolytes to beer in the quest to create a hangover free beer.
Researchers claim that by adding electrolytes and reducing the amount of alcohol in beer, it will help keep you hydrated, thus ensuring that you will not get a hangover the next day. In the study, researchers from Griffith University added electrolytes to two popular, but unnamed, beers. One of which was light (2.3% ABV), and the other is something they call “full” strength (4.8% ABV). They gave the augmented beer to participants that just had a rigorous exercise, in attempt to see which type of beer would help them recover their fluids. They found that the light beer with added electrolytes was found to be the “most effective at re-hydrating” participants.
As promising as this all sounds, it must be noted that only seven people participated in this study. And those seven people were only tested on four separate occasions. Despite the obvious limitations of this research, it’s also the first study of its kind. There’s no denying that far more research is needed to confirm whether electrolytes in your beer will prevent a hangover or not.
Healthy Beer and You
It’s important to remember that despite any potential health benefits your beer may offer, there are healthier things you can put into your body. If you’re looking to lose weight, beer may not be the best thing to consume. If you just took medicine, beer may not be the best thing to consume. Despite what we want to believe, beer is not a superfood and should not be treated as such.
While all beers tend to contain at least some health benefits, some styles will provide more benefits than others. If I had to choose the healthiest type of beer, I would lean towards gluten-free. But I’m not a doctor, and this the above list of healthy beer is not a substitute for medical advice. The key thing to remember when it comes to beer, or any type of alcohol, is to drink in moderation and do so responsibly.
Have you tried any of the “health beers” we listed above? Let us know your thoughts on them in the comments below.