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The Health Benefits of Beer

Hale and Hearty

by Rachel B. Levin

Beer may guard against osteoporosis

An amalgamation of malted barley, hops, yeast and water, beer is an earthy elixir born of the harvest. Before beer guts and Bud Light stripped the brew of its dignity, the ancients knew of its value and natural healing powers. In Babylonia, thought to be the birthplace of beer, kings offered it to the gods at festivals while women used it to refresh their skin. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used beer as a tonic for fever and to heal wounds.

Beer was pushed aside as a remedy in the wake of alcohol abuse and modern pharmacology. Certainly, consuming excessive amounts of any alcoholic beverage can damage the liver, among other things. But drinking in moderation can boost health in a variety of surprising ways. Research now suggests that beer is equally as effective as red wine in increasing the elasticity of arteries and thereby reducing the risk of high blood pressure, strokes and cardiovascular disease. It has also been shown to defend against gall and kidney stones as well as stomach ulcers.

Health Benefits:

Beer is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants

- May reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease
- Full of cancer-fighting antioxidants
- May slow the formation of kidney and gall stones and stomach ulcers
- May guard against osteoporosis
- Chock full of B vitamins, magnesium and potassium
- Source of soluble fiber
- Promotes healthy skin

Hops, the bitter, leafy buds used to balance the malt’s sweetness, are powerful agents of healing. The antioxidants in hops — similar to those found in red wine — have the potential to protect against cancer by soaking up damaging free radicals. German scientists have even brewed a beer high in hops’ antioxidant xanthohumol, shown to stem the growth of tumor cells. Hops also contain active compounds thought to guard against osteoporosis.

Beer’s plentiful B vitamins and brewer’s yeast are salves for the skin due to their nourishing, cleansing and drying properties. Cleopatra was known to have soaked in a beer bath; today, at a variety of spas in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, local lager is poured into tubs for guests to enjoy the rich and relaxing suds and incorporated into “brewski” facials that leave the skin smooth and supple.

Sure, you still have to worry about the calories in beer, but the brew itself has no fat or cholesterol, is low in sugar and sodium and a source of soluble fiber. So pop open a frosty bottle to enjoy with your burger, pour the tawny ale into your favorite marinades and toast the harvest with confidence.

The Klosterbrauerei brewery in Neuzelle, Germany

BEER SPAS

Skin Gets Tipsy in These Tubs

Chodovar Brewery
Chodova Plana, Czech Republic
420-374-794-181
www.chodovar.cz
Offers beer baths using the brewery’s dark lager.

Kummerower Hof
Neuzelle, Germany
03-36-5281-10
www.bierbad.de
Beer baths and spa services available.

Landhotel Moorhof
Franking, Austria
43-6277-8188
www.moorhof.com
Beer baths, hay bed, massage, sauna and facials are available at the spa.

Brown ale image © 2006 Bob Goldman and the Brewers Association.

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PKR010509

(Updated: 04/10/12 BH)


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