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Quinn on Nutrition: Fear the beer ó well, not exactly, but watch consumption

July 4, 2016


On a fun tour of the original Pabst Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisc., I noticed a sign in one of the halls from days of old:  "Fresh beer is the most important thing to insure your future." Iím not so sure that is true but I was truly fascinated by some of the trivia about one of Americaís first commercial beer makers.

Pabst, which means "Pope" in German, got its name from Frederick Pabst, son-in-law of Phillip Best, whose family started the brewery in 1844. During the 1880ís, it was one of the biggest breweries in America, partly because they figured out how to keep beer cold en route to market; they set up ice houses along all the railroad stops.

Pabst got its Blue Ribbon name in 1883 when ó after winning many beer competitions ó brewery workers hand-tied a blue silk ribbon around the neck of each bottle. 

Until 1940, this brewery advertised beer and malt extract (germinated barley that helps convert sugar to alcohol in the beer making process) as tonics for breastfeeding moms. Little evidence has emerged to show that beer drinking helps milk production but some research has identified substances in barley that may help induce lactation. However, infants in one study actually nursed less after mom drank regular beer compared to non-alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beer has also been shown to help boost the antioxidant content of momís milk, according to a more recent study. (Antioxidants are beneficial substances that protect our cells from day to day wear and tear.)

Light beer is regular beer with added water, our tour guide was quick to point out. "If you want fewer calories, drink less beer," he suggested. FYI, light beer contains about 50 fewer calories per 12-ounce can or bottle than regular beer. Interesting too, that to make light beer, more enzymes are added to convert starch into sugar which is then fermented to alcohol. Initially then, light beer is lower in carbs and higher in alcohol. Beer makers add water to keep the alcohol content of their light beers similar to regular beer (about 3 to 5 percent). 

You wonít find a nutrition label on beer. Itís not required on alcoholic beverages. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Composition Database, a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer contains about 150 calories. The same amount of light beer contains about 100 calories. And although beer contains a bit of protein and B-vitamins, donít count on any alcoholic drink to load you up nutritionally; it is mainly a good-tasting source of extra calories. 

As we too well know, excess beer and other alcohol is toxic to the body and interferes big time with the ability to process food and nutrients. In beer terms, any intake above one (12 ounce) can or bottle of beer a day for women and 2 cans or bottles for men is considered excessive and can be a health risk.

 

 



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