While the average healthcare provider won’t necessarily jump up and down over your desire to add beer to your healthy diet and eating plan, the truth of the matter is beer isn’t necessarily as bad for you as some might want you to believe. Depending on the brand you drink, you’ll find the average number of calories in beer is relatively low, ranging anywhere from 55 to 220. Having a low calorie count isn’t beer’s only benefit.

Beer and Heart Disease

There have been several studies touting the health benefits of beer, comparing beer consumption to the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. The New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals who consumed moderate amounts of beer, which they defined as more than 1 beer per week, could see a decrease in the chance of stroke of up to 20%.

A different study, conducted by the Texas Southwestern Medical Center, had slightly different results. This study found that moderate consumption of beer, defined as 1-2 per day at a maximum, could reduce the risk of heart disease by anywhere from 30% to 40%.

The healthy consumption of beer has also been proven to increase the levels of HDL (healthy cholesterol) in your bloodstream. According to studies done by the Boston University School of Medicine, drinking beer can also contribute to the health of your blood vessels, prevent the formation of blood clots, and ward off Type 2 diabetes.

Why Does Beer Help?

So why does beer help so much? There are 2 main reasons: vitamin B6 and polyphenols.

Vitamin B6 is an incredibly important vitamin for the health of your heart and beer contains high levels. B6 helps to prevent your body from building up high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid known to contribute to heart disease. Beer drinkers often have anywhere from 20 % to 30% more B6 in their bloodstreams than those who do not drink or who consume other types of alcohol.

Polyphenols are antioxidants, chemicals your body can use to fight off the free radicals attempting to damage your cells. They can contribute to stopping cancer-causing enzymes, can help keep your HDL levels high,and more. A single glass of beer can have up to 5 times more polyphenols than a serving of red wine.

Drinking Beer Responsibly

It’s important to stress that the health benefits of beer, no matter how many calories it contains, are only applicable if you drink it in moderation. While beer can’t stop the formation of any disease, it can help to significantly reduce your risks of development. Over-consumption can have opposite effects, damaging your heart, liver, kidneys, and more. Make sure you seek the advice of a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your health or the amount that you drink on a regular basis!

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons