Savoring a beer might be just what’s needed as part of one’s
health regime. But, the caveat emphasizes, it’s a tactic only in
Beer in general
and in moderation is beneficial for heart and cognitive function, both
attributed to the beverage’s alcohol content, says registered
dietitian Joan Pleuss, a nutrition consultant to TOPS, a weight-loss
support group. In addition, beer helps increase bone density because
of its silicon content, she adds.
Pleuss, also the
bionutrition director for the Translational Research Unit at the
Medical College of Wisconsin, indicates that ingredients such as
wheat, yeast, malted barley and hops contribute to the B vitamin
content of beer. Varieties of beer might offer different benefits,
such as India pale ales with their additional malt and hops
contributing to more silicon in the body and darker beers containing
more antioxidants than lagers.
Pleuss adds that
a study done in The Netherlands shows beer supposedly can decrease
fibrinogen, a protein that contributes to blood clotting. It also
decreased C-reactive protein, helping lower the risk of inflammation
that leads to heart disease, according to Pleuss.
Keeping in mind
the importance of not overdoing too much of a good thing, a glass or
two of beer a day might be considered as much a part of a health
regime as red wine. Pleuss, of course, emphasizes that women not
exceed 12 ounces of beer per day and men 24 ounces.
several benefits to light or "low-cal" beer, Pleuss
explains, especially since they do not have as many calories.
"This variety of beer doesn’t have the same risks for cancer,
either," she explains, adding that it’s the alcohol in beer
that increases the risk for some types of cancer.
A number of
organic beers have arrived in the marketplace, a factor to consider
especially knowing that some ingredients in mainline beers, such as
hops, are often treated with pesticides. "By 2013, organic beer
will need to use organic hops where they now can use a combination of
organic and nonorganic," Pleuss says.
suggest the first priority in buying organic would be putting the
extra money toward organic produce," she says.
product, bottle-conditioned beer, has brewer’s yeast added before
the bottle is closed, supposedly augmenting the health benefits in
yeast, such as B-complex vitamins, protein, chromium and other good
"stuff." But the health value would depend on how much extra
brewer’s yeast is in the beer and how much is in the sediment on the
bottom that would not be ingested, says Pleuss, whose favorite style
of beer is a pilsner. She enjoys the occasional Miller MGD 64, with
only 64 calories and 2.4 carbs. Pleuss says, "The colder, the
researchers have said beer can improve cholesterol metabolism and is a
source of antioxidants, Pleuss still warns that beer — or any
alcohol — actually increases the risk of cancer, especially breast,
liver, rectum, throat, mouth and esophagus. As a last word regarding
beer as part of one’s health plan: "Don’t start drinking if
you currently don’t drink," she advises.
Gleeson, director of the Froedtert Hospital and The Medical College of
Wisconsin Executive Health program, agrees with much of what Pleuss
says and emphasizes, "I highly doubt the addition of fruit to
beer has any added health benefit." He adds, "Sorry, but I
cannot find what I accept as good science anything that separates the
health benefits of beer from other alcohols."
needs such backgrounding and resources in his work, he often cites Dr.
David J. Hanson, of the State University of New York at Potsdam, who
has researched the subject of alcohol and drinking for more than 40
drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are
either abstainers or heavy drinkers," says Hanson, citing studies
done by Harvard, University of London, the Cancer Research Center, the
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and research in Italy, Canada,
Spain, Australia, United Kingdom, Denmark and China.
Hanson, more of
a wine than beer drinker himself, along with enjoying an occasional
gin and tonic, indicates that in addition to having fewer heart
attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of beer, wine and distilled
spirits are generally less likely to suffer from diabetes, arthritis,
enlarged prostate, dementia and several major cancers.
explains, a standard drink is a 12-ounce bottle or can of regular
beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and 1.5-ounce of 80-proof distilled
spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink). "The alcohol
content of a standard drink of beer, dinner wine or distilled spirits
is equivalent. To a Breathalyzer, they are all the same," he
pattern of consumption makes the most difference. It’s much better
to consume a little on a daily basis, rather than infrequently, for
maximum health benefits. In other words, saving up for a week’s
worth of alcohol for the weekend is "unhealthy, even dangerous
and clearly to be avoided," Hanson says.
Looking over his
long years of study on the subject, Hanson chuckles recalling a
conference debating 10 studies on which kind of alcohol might be
better healthwise. "Three cited wine, three cited beer, three
cited distilled spirits and one was inconclusive. And then the
conferees adjourned to the bar," he says.
positive aspects of alcohol, Hanson points out that it reduces
coronary artery spasm in response to stress, increases coronary blood
flow, reduces blood pressure and reduces blood insulin levels and
increases estrogen levels.
As with other
science and medical professionals, he urges moderation, rarely having
more than one to three drinks per day. "Unfortunately, there
really can be too much of a good thing," Hanson emphasizes.
can choose from 30 micro brews at Roman’s Pub.
There aren’t a
lot of places around Beertown where a dedicated drinker can imbibe a
Southern Tier Krampus Imperial Helles Lager from New York or a Gubna
Imperial India Pale from the Oska Blues brewery in Colorado, much less
a Zywiec lager from Poland. But beer lovers in the know make the
pilgrimage to Roman’s Pub on Kinnickinnic Avenue where they can
imbibe in brews they may not be able to find in the local liquor
Romans loves his beer and history. The pub is located in a historic
1885 building that was once a stagecoach stop and roadhouse.
neighborhood saloon, this long-ago speakeasy features a regularly
rotating roster of brews. In fact, Romans has up to 30 often
hard-to-find new draft micros on a regular basis.
The pub was
owned by the same family from 1919 until purchased in 1978 by Romans,
57. He began specializing in craft beers from around the world in the
mid-1990s, then added cigars and wines to his stock. He has no problem
with the state’s smoke-free legislation, either. Puffers can sit out
on his heated back deck and order beverages through a window,
"just like Dairy Queen," the bar owner chuckles. Only
peanuts, chips and assorted snacks are available, but Roman allows
carry-ins and even provides paper plates.
eclectic, with loads of beer memorabilia, old advertising and
drinking-related paraphernalia. Although the building can be easily
missed on a quick drive-by, look for the elaborate Paulaner Munchen
bracket with its Romans’ Pub sign above the entrance.
personally favors Goose Island Pale Ale, with his place being the
Chicago brewery’s No. 1 tavern in its 17-state distribution range.
"I go through about five barrels a month; they say I drink half
of it," he laughs.
To find his
beers, Romans searches the Internet and relies on his distributors for
new tastes. "Knowing what’s good comes from the experience of
being in this business for so long," he asserts.