Drinking beer because it might be healthy is like taking a flight because you might see some killer clouds. Suffice it to say, both the health benefits and the clouds are not why you do either of those things. You probably drink beer because it's delicious and makes you feel like an honest-to-goodness champion, but there are some potential positive health effects you might want to be aware of. Here's a bunch of benefits to drinking your favorite alcoholic beverage, according to science.
Good news: OregonLive reports that a study conducted at Oregon State showed that mice given a high-fat diet and xanthohumol ("a natural flavor found in hops and beer") had their insulin and cholesterol levels cut significantly. Bad news: you'd have to drink 3,500 pints a day to take in that level of xanthohumol. Interesting news: that's only ~3,496 more beers than you drink in a given day.
It'll help you after you have a heart attack
Considering heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, odds are you might have a heart attack in your lifetime. Yeah, it sucks. On the upside, just because you have one doesn't mean you have to stop drinking beer. To the contrary -- Harvard researchers found that men who drank two drinks a day (aka a bottle/can of beer) were "42% less likely to die from heart disease."
It could help prevent Alzheimer's
A university in Madrid found that drinking two beers a day "limited the ability of aluminum to damage the brain," which is good, because aluminum is thought to be a factor in causing Alzheimer's. Does that mean if you drink four beers, you might double the effects of beer against aluminum? There's only one way to find out! (Also, probably not.)
It improves your sleep
This study by Spanish researchers has a big asterisk next to it because the study was about the effects of non-alcoholic beer. But it's still beer, and it's still good for you! The study, which featured 17 nurses as participants, found that the volunteers fell asleep 12 minutes faster and tossed and turned less when they drank an NA beer before bed. O'Doul's should rebrand as the Perfect Bedtime Beer.
It helps bones stay healthy and strong
Dr. Kaplan of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas says that beer "may help increase bone density," which is helpful for people who don't want their bones to fracture. The Wall Street Journal also quoted the good doctor as citing a separate study where male beer drinkers had a "lower risk of coronary-artery disease" than guys who drank wine or spirits. I want this guy to be my primary care physician.
It's a great hydration source after a workout
Spanish researchers say that beer hydrates "slightly better" than water, which is great news for amateur athletes who can't wait until they go to the bar after the game to drink. One of the researchers claimed that the carbs in beer "replace lost calories," proving that if you work out to lose weight, perhaps subbing beer for water isn't the best idea.
It could help prevent cancer
Might as well enjoy another fresh-hop IPA, because researchers at the University of Idaho are working to extract compounds from hops that they think might fight cancer and other inflammatory diseases. It could also be a ploy for those researchers to buy hops for the lab and then secretly use them to homebrew, but that's a wild guess.
It gives you a sick dopamine rush
You probably already know this because you have a subscription to Neuropsychopharmacology, but the journal published the work of an Indiana U professor who showed that a few minutes after 49 adult men tasted beer, their brains released that sweet, sweet dopamine rush you might recognize from that one time you had sex. Finally, beer and sex are now inextricably linked!
It reduces the risk of kidney stones
If you drink soda, pay attention. The Washington Post reported on a study from the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (yes, THAT Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology!) that found that people who drank sugary beverages developed kidney stones more than ones who didn't. The good news is that the people in the study who drank beer once a day had a 41% lowered risk of developing kidney stones.
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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and thinks a beer a day keeps the doctor away. Follow him to science: @LeeBreslouer.