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Beer: 5 Benefits and 5 Disadvantages
Is Beer Really That Bad for You?
Beer is one of the oldest and most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. Ancient Greek physician Paracelsus is even attributed with saying, "A little bit of beer is divine medicine." But although many people attest to the benefits of this yeasty beverage, just as many can tell you the consequences of a drink or two too many.
So is it good for you or not? Read about its advantages and negative side effects and make your own decision.
The Benefits of Beer
First, let's look at beer's benefits.
- Provides vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. Beer is rich in many B-group vitamins and minerals such as magnesium. The barley and hops used in the production of beer are rich in flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant effects.
- Lowers risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). There is quite strong evidence that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption has cardio-protective properties. Many studies demonstrate a lower coronary heart disease incidence among moderate beer drinkers. Moderate drinkers are at lower risk of CHD-related mortality than both heavy drinkers and abstainers. The vitamin B6 in beer also seems to prevent the alcohol-induced rise in blood homocysteine, a probable heart disease risk factor.
- Helps produce good cholesterol. Moderate alcohol drinking affects many processes in the body, one of which is the significant increase in HDL cholesterol—the good cholesterol. There is evidence supporting beer's cardio-protective effect and its help in altering the ratio of beneficial HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol.
- Reduces risk of kidney stones. Beer consumption may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. Finnish researchers found that there was a 40% lower risk of kidney stones in beer drinkers.
- Protects against radiation. Japanese researchers found that beer helps reduce chromosomal damage from radiation exposure.
The Negative Side Effects of Drinking Beer
And now some of the negative effects you may expect from regular beer drinking:
- "Beer belly." Heavy beer drinking may promote abdominal obesity (the so-called "beer belly") in men.
- Heartburn. Beer contains powerful stimulants of gastric acid secretion and may provoke gastroesophageal reflux and cause heartburn.
- High blood pressure. Daily beer consumption (approximately 40 g of alcohol) may increase blood pressure.
- Intoxication and dehydration. Alcohol is a dehydrating agent and downer that reduces activity of the central nervous system. High amounts of alcohol can turn into dehydration, intoxication, and hangover.
- Impairment of driving-related skills. Even small amounts of alcohol can have adverse effects on attention and motor skills. Many serious accidents are alcohol related.