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Thursday, July 23, 2009


Cheers to Beer: Amazing Benefits

What if your doctor prescribed you a medicine that could reduce strokes, heart and vascular disease, and the incidence of cataracts and breast cancer cells? You would take it every day, right? Well, you won't have to see your doctor for this remedy, but you may want to visit your favorite bartender.

It's fairly common knowledge that beer has a relaxing effect on the body and can reduce stress, but there are a myriad of other health benefits of this potent potable that are not as apparent at your local happy hour. There has never been better reasons to enjoy a cold one. So test your beer health IQ.

The Healthy, Happy Hour Beer Quiz:

True or false?

Beer is good for your heart.
True: A Dutch study conducted by TNO Nutrition and Food Research found that a known reference for predicting future cardiovascular disease, blood C-reactive protein (CRP), declined by 35 percent after three weeks of regular beer consumption compared with levels after three weeks of drinking non-alcoholic beer. The same study found that levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol rose by 11 percent during the same period. Beer also contains vitamin B6, which prevents the build-up of an amino acid called homocysteine that has been linked to heart disease.

Also, the Archives of Internal Medicine published an article confirming the benefits for women drinking alcohol. Data was collected from more than 70,000 nurses aged 25 to 42 whose health histories were tracked from 1989. Younger women who drink two or three alcoholic beverages a week have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure than women who do not drink alcohol. The women in the group who drank two or three alcoholic drinks a week had a 14 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those who abstained.

Beer will reduce the chance of stroke.
True: One drink a day for women or up to two drinks a day for men will reduce your chances of strokes, heart and vascular disease. Strokes are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of serious, long-term disabilities. It is said that light to moderate drinkers will decrease their chances of suffering a stroke by 20 percent.

You should give your grandma a beer.
True: Don't load her up a beer bong yet or take her to "kill a keg" night at you local pub, but in moderation, beer has been proven to have positive effects on elderly people. It helps promote blood vessel dilation, sleep and urination.

Beer makes you funnier and more attractive to the opposite sex.

False: I'm sorry; beer won't make you funnier, although it will lower inhibitions and may make your bad jokes seem funnier to your inebriated amigos. In this state of lowered inhibitions, "beer-goggles" can take over and make that 4.5 at the end of the bar seem like an eleven. You'll see clearly in the morning. (Again, sorry.)

Beer is both fat-free and cholesterol-free.
True: Check the label. Nutritionally, a beer is similar to a can of soda in its calories and carbs, but can your cola curb cancer?

Beer is good for breasts.
True: Research by scientists at the Universidade do Porto in Portugal found that polyphenols in wine and beer appeared to decrease breast cancer cells significantly. Numerous other experiments have shown that certain polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, can protect against heart disease and have anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties. The Portuguese study concluded that xanthohumol, which is found in beer, was the most potent polyphenol over breast cancer cell growth; it showed its effect more rapidly and at a lower concentration than the others.

Beer could save the Three Blind Mice.
True: John Trevithick, Ph.D., and Maurice Hirst, Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario, conducted a study that suggests beer reduced the incidence of cataracts in mice (but increased their propensity to "go wild" and get tattoos they'll regret later in life -- my own inference). If the same cataract protection occurs in humans, it would be especially beneficial to people with diabetes.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Benjamin Franklin said it; it must be true.

Beer has many healthy benefits when enjoyed in moderation. One or two beers a day can keep you healthy, but don't overindulge or you'll watch your beer belly blossom. Drink responsibly. Cheers!

Shawn McKee graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in Journalism and has written for The Broward and Miami New Times.


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