BEER CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU!
A new study shows that drinking beer with dinner may also be healthy for your heart.
People have been saying this for years, and here it is again. There's nothing wrong with a few beers (as long as you are of age).
It's also a fact that beer drinkers have been ignored for too long. After all, the wine drinkers have been praised for their healthy habits (the ‘Mediterranean Paradox’ and all that) while beer drinkers were just looked down upon as being, well, drinkers. In fact, with all that good news about how wine is good for you, even some committed beer drinkers must have been wondering about whether it was time to switch to wine.
Well, no more! Beer drinkers have finally been vindicated. You can now proudly say that all the years of training & forcing yourself to down those pints have not been in vain; sort of.
As reported in the doctors’ magazine, ‘The Lancet’ (The Lancet 2000; 355:1522), Dutch researchers have reported that beer contains vitamin B6, a vitamin that reduces homocysteine ("ho-mo-sist-een") levels in blood. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk. So keeping homocysteine levels under control may, therefore, cut heart risk.
In their tests, the authors compared the effects of Beer, Wine, Gin and Water on the levels of B6 and homocysteine in the blood. After only three weeks of drinking beer with their dinner, it was found that volunteers had a 30% rise in levels of B6 BUT there was no increase in their homocysteine. Drinking water had no effect on either.
On the other hand, drinking wine or gin increased B6 levels by only half as much, but both actually increased the levels of the potentially harmful homocysteine.
Obviously, homocysteine and B6 aren't the whole story, since many other papers have shown the cardiovascular benefits of moderate wine and, more generally, alcohol consumption. But, until they figure out the whys and wherefores, why argue with them? If you're going to have a beer, you might as well drink it knowing that it's at least as good for your heart, as any of the other higher profile wines and spirits.
Frank Caddy, chief executive of Northern Ireland Drinks Industry Group, summarised “Beer consumption seems to boost concentrations of vitamin B6 in the blood and coincides with lower concentrations of homocysteine, a risk factor for heart disease. Just make sure you don't over-enjoy those beers. A few beers here and there may be fine, but over-indulging in beer (or any alcohol) consumption is anything but healthy”
Moderation – you know it makes sense
References: Van der Gaag, M.S....and H.F.J. Hendriks. 2000. Effect of consumption of red wine, spirits, and beer on serum homocysteine. Lancet 355(April 29):1522.