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5 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer

By Krista Elliott

When it comes to adult beverages that also contain a boost for your health, red wine has held the top spot for quite some time. However, the humble beer, with its unassuming everyday reputation, has been keeping a secret from us: It too, packs a punch when it comes to our health. 

Now obviously, any health benefits from any alcoholic beverage must be considered against the very real risks that these drinks can pose to your health and safety. I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you to drink sensibly, avoid alcohol if you have health conditions that preclude it, and never, ever, ever operate a motor vehicle, machinery, or sharp objects after drinking. 

Now that we've gotten the common-sense warnings out of the way, let's take a look at beer and health. During and after WWI, post-op patients, blood donors, and pregnant women were given Guiness to drink, based on the thought that it was high in iron and would enrich the blood. In fact, the beer's slogan was "It's Good for You!" This medical advice has since been debunked, but there are still some benefits to beer that stand up to scientific examination.

It's Good for Your Heart - As mentioned, wine gets all the credit for its benefits to your cardiovascular system. Beer, however, is no slouch in this department: A large review of the evidence by Italian research concludes that moderate (1 a day on average) beer consumption helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Kidney Stones, Begone! - Kidney stones are no picnic. Fortunately, a bottle of beer can reduce the risk of kidney stones by 40 percent, according to Finnish researchers. It's not yet determined which ingredient causes this effect, but all that running to the bathroom after drinking beer probably doesn't hurt the situation!

Beer Goggles - Concerned about cataracts? Drink a stout. Canadian researchers have shown in animal studies that drinking beer, particularly darker beers like porter and stout, could reduce the risk of cataracts AND atherosclerosis by up to 50 percent. 

Drink Your Vitamins - The yeast in beer is chock-full of B vitamins, particularly if you're drinking unfiltered beer. Vitamin B3 (niacin) is good for your cholesterol levels, while B6 (pyridoxine) is a brain booster, helping in the production of serotonin as well as nerve-protecting myelin. 

Protect Your Pancreas - Worried about developing type 2 diabetes? In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, beer can be one of the keys to avoiding insulin injections later in life. Researchers have found that moderate beer consumption can lower the risk of diabetes by about 30 percent.

Now, if you don't drink, don't feel the need to start. A healthy lifestyle is a great defense against any ill health. But if you do enjoy a beer after work, then you can feel a little more virtuous about it, knowing that your drink of choice has some health bonuses. 

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