Wisconsin has long been associated with cheese and beer, and those of us who call it home may sometimes feel the need to point out that “Wisconsin is more than just cheese and beer”. Native Wisconsinites, take heart! As it turns out, we can brag about more than just all the great local beers now available. We can also toast to the health benefits of beer, some that surpass those of red wine, the more widely recommended choice in the health world.
Like red wine, beer has ethanol, the component primarily responsible for heart healthy benefits that include increased HDL cholesterol, decreased LDL cholesterol, and reduced risk of clotting.
New methods of measuring the fiber in fluids now show that beer contains about 2 grams of soluble fiber in a standard 12-ounce serving. This is news, since previous testing methods were not appropriate for liquids and did not detect the fiber in beer. Both beer and wine provide some potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and fluoride, but beer outshines wine when it comes to selenium and silicon. Since beer is a grain product, is also a source of B vitamins. While wine appears to have more antioxidant power than beer when studied in the lab, the jury is still out regarding absorbability of these compounds (polyphenols) in the body.
Whatever your drink of choice may be, remember that benefits of drinking alcohol are associated with MODERATE drinking – that means a maximum of one drink a day for women or two for men. For more on portion sizes of alcoholic beverages, check out my video on the subject.