As far as healthy libations go, wine typically gets all of the glory. But it’s time that the humble brewski received some much-deserved credit. Although maligned as a fattening, carb-filled beverage that we chugged with abandon during our college days, beer comes with some surprising health perks. The key, though, is to not overdo too much of a good thing. Going on a beer binge will only cancel out all of its health benefits—not to mention leave you feeling worse-for-wear come morn—so indulge wisely.
When consumed in moderation (one 12-ounce serving for women; two 12-ounce servings for men), beer can be a boon to your health. So if you’re celebrating the long 4th of July weekend, raise a glass to these 5 awesome health benefits of beer.
1. Good source of micronutrients
You’ve probably heard the hype about the antioxidants in red wine, but did you know that beer is packed with beneficial micronutrients? One 12-ounce regular beer, for example, contributes folate, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid and riboflavin. In a Dutch study, beer-drinking participants had 30 percent higher levels of vitamin B6 levels in their blood than their non-drinking counterparts, and twice as much as wine drinkers. What’s more, beer contains modest amounts of dietary fiber and protein. Although you shouldn’t rely on beer to fulfill your daily vitamin quota (that’s what fruits and veggies are for, folks!), this gives you another excuse to imbibe in a brew or two.
2. Builds a stronger skeleton
Got beer? Some types of beer contain a generous amount of dietary silicon, an element that may improve bone mineral density and thereby protect against osteoporosis. To get the biggest bone-boosting bang for your buck, select brews containing high levels of malted barley and hops—these varieties are richer in silicon, researchers at University of California-Davis discovered. Indian Pale Ales boast the most silicon, with an average of 41.2 mg/L.
3. Prevents blood clots
Downing beer in moderation may deter the formation of blood clots, studies suggest. Drinking one beer a daily was found to have favorable effects on lipids and fibrinogen, a protein implicated in blood clotting.
4. Lowers heart disease risk
A beer a day keeps the cardiologist away? Although vino has long been lauded as a heart-healthy libation, beer might offer the same—if not more—heart health benefits. A 2011 study published by the American Dietetic Association found that moderate consumption of any beverage—including beer—increases HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. Additionally, a study by Harvard University reported that moderate beer consumption (one 12-ounce serving a day) was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease.
5. Lowers kidney stone risk
Beer has been linked with a lower risk of developing kidney stones compared to other alcoholic beverages. Researchers hypothesize that this is due to beer’s higher water content and diuretic effects. “Compounds in hops may also slow the release of calcium from bone that is implicated in kidney stones,” said registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Andrea Giancoli in a news release.