People often ask, "what is craft beer?," or " what is the best craft beer in Los Angeles?" But every now and then we get asked a different style of question:
Are beer and wine healthy?
The answer is really what most drinkers hope it would be. Beer and wine can be incredibly healthy in limited quantities, however, as a society, we rarely consume them in such a manner.
To illustrate this point, we've complied a few statistics and studies for you. Below you'll find many interesting health facts relating to wine and craft beer in Los Angeles:
1. Stronger bones. Beer contains high levels of silicon, which is linked to bone health. In a 2009 study at Tufts University and other centers, older men and women who drank one or two drinks daily had higher bone density, with the greatest benefits found in those who favored beer or wine. However, downing more than two drinks was linked to increased risk for fractures.
For the best bone-building benefits, reach for pale ale, since a 2010 study of 100 types of beer from around the word identified these brews as richest in silicon, while light lagers and non-alcoholic beers contained the least.
2. A stronger heart. A 2011 analysis of 16 earlier studies involving more than 200,000 people, conducted by researchers at Italy's Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura, found a 31 percent reduced risk of heart disease in those who drank about a pint of beer daily. Risk surged in those who drank higher amounts of alcohol, whether beer, wine, or spirits.
More than 100 studies also show that moderate drinking trims risk of heart attacks and death from cardiovascular disease by 25 to 40 percent, Harvard reports. A beer or two a day can raise levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol that helps keep arteries from getting clogged.
3. Healthier kidneys. A study in Finland singled out beer among other alcoholic drinks, finding that each bottle of beer men drank daily lowered their risk of developing kidney stones by 40 percent. One theory is that beer's high water content helped keep kidneys working, since dehydration increases kidney stone risk.
It's also possible that the hops in beer helps curb leeching of calcium from bones. That "lost" calcium can end up in the kidneys as stones.
4. Boosting brain health. A beer a day may help keep Alzheimer's disease and other dementia at bay, researchers say. A 2005 study tracking the health of 11,000 older women showed that moderate drinkers (those who consumed about one drink a day) lowered their risk of mental decline by as much as 20 percent, compared to non-drinkers. In addition, older women who downed a drink a day averaged about 18 months "younger," on mental skills tests.
5. Reduced cancer risk. A Portuguese study found that marinating steak in beer eliminates almost 70 percent of the carcinogens, called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when the meat is pan-fried. Researchers theorize that beer's sugars help block HCAs from forming.
Scientists also have found that beer and wine contain about the same levels of antioxidants, but the antioxidants are different because the flavonoids found in hops and grapes are different.
6. Boosting vitamin levels. A Dutch study performed at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute found that 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. Beer also contains vitamin B12 and folic acid.
7. Guarding against stroke. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that moderate amounts of alcohol, including beer, help prevent blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, neck and brain. These clots can cause ischemic strokes.
8. Reduced risk for diabetes. A 2011 Harvard study of about 38,000 middle-aged men found that when those who only drank occasionally raised their alcohol intake to one to two beers or other drinks daily, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes dropped by 25 percent. The researchers found no benefit to drinking more than two servings. The researchers found that alcohol increases insulin sensitivity, thus helping protect against diabetes.
9. Lower blood pressure. Wine is fine for your heart, but beer may be even better.
A Harvard study of 70,000 women ages 25 to 40 found that moderate beer drinkers were less likely to develop high blood pressure—a major risk factor for heart attack—than women who sipped wine or spirits.
10. Longer llfe. In a 2005 review of 50 studies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that moderate drinkers live longer. The USDA also estimates that moderate drinking prevents about 26,000 deaths a year, due to lower rates of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Moderation is Key!
While these studies show numerous benefits to drinking some craft beer or wine daily, the benefits tend to evaporate after two beers or glasses of wine. Risks surge for binge drinkers.
What do these studies mean? Moderate amounts of alcohol can be greatly beneficial to your health, while binge drinking can be exceptionally harmful. When selecting some of the best craft beer and fine wine money can buy in Los Angeles, just remember it can be healthful to drink, as long as you drink responsibly and in moderation.