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The Virtues of Beer: Just in Time for St. Patrick’s Day
I live in a pro-beer household. It’s not really a choice. As a member of an extremely enthusiastic Irish family, my fiancé was raised on tall glasses of dark Guinness — beer is just a way of life.
As St. Patty’s approaches I am pleased to push aside red wine and examine the health benefits of the other alcoholic treat. Like wine, beer also has antioxidants. Several studies have found that the antioxidants in beer may protect organs from carcinogenic agents and new research has isolated xanthohumol, one of the primary antioxidants found in beer, as a compound that can slow the proliferation of breast-cancer cells.
Beer is about more than antioxidants. Scientists at Tufts University have also connected beer drinking to osteoporosis prevention. Beer is made using the husk of grains, which features a type of bone-enhancing silicon called silicate.
While beer is better for the drinker than say, Mountain Dew, it’s far from a health food. Anheuser-Busch’s energy beer failed to catch on last year, but Swedish developers are still trying to increase beer’s health appeal by experimenting with a brew made from oats instead of barley. This oaty beer could help lower LDL cholesterol levels and boost the immune system.
This St. Patrick’s Day the news is good — especially for dark beer drinkers. “Just as there are more antioxidants in red wine versus Chardonnay, the same is true for beer,” explains Roberta Anding, R.D., of the American Dietetic Association.