Cheers to beer!

What if your doctor prescribed you a medicine that could reduce strokes, heart and vascular disease, and the incidence of cataracts and some cancer cells? You would take it every day, right? Well you won’t have to go see your doctor for this remedy but you may want to visit your favourite bartender.

It’s fairly common knowledge that beer (lager, ale, stout) has a relaxing effect on the body and can reduce stress. But there are a myriad of other health benefits of this potent potable that are probably not as apparent during your local happy hour. There have never been better reasons to enjoy a cold beer. So test your beer health IQ.

The healthy, happy hour beer quiz:

True or false?

Beer is good for your heart.

True: A Dutch study conducted by TNO Nutrition and Food Research found that a known reference for predicting future cardiovascular disease, blood C-reactive protein (CRP), declined by 35 percent after three weeks of regular beer consumption compared with levels after three weeks of drinking non-alcoholic beer. The same study found that levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol rose by 11 percent during the same period. Beer also contains vitamin B6, which prevents the build-up of an amino acid called homocysteine that has been linked to heart disease.

Also, the Archives of Internal Medicine published an article confirming the benefits for women drinking alcohol. Data was collected from more than 70,000 nurses aged 25 to 42 whose health histories were tracked from 1989.

Younger women who drink two or three alcoholic beverages a week have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure than women who do not drink alcohol. The women in the group who drank two or three alcoholic drinks a week had a 14 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those who abstained.

Beer prevents the onset of dementia.

True: Drinking alcohol in moderation may reduce the risk of dementia in later life. Abstaining from alcohol and abusing alcohol are both risk factors for cognitive decline. A study published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that people with mild deterioration of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning who had a maximum of 1 drink per day, developed dementia at an 85% slower rate that people of similar cognitive levels who were tee-totalers.

Beer will reduce the chance of stroke.

True: One drink a day for women or up to two drinks a day for men will reduce your chances of strokes, heart and vascular disease. Stroke is the third biggest cause of death in the UK and the largest single cause of severe disability. It is said that light to moderate drinkers will decrease their chances of suffering a stroke by 20 percent.

You should give your grandma a beer.

True: Don’t load her up a beer funnel yet or take her on a drinking marathon at your local pub, but in moderation, beer has been proven to have positive effects on elderly people. It helps promote blood vessel dilation, sleep and urination.

Beer makes you funnier and more attractive to the opposite sex. False: I’m sorry; beer won’t make you funnier, although it will lower inhibitions and may make your bad jokes seem funnier to your inebriated amigos. In this state of lowered inhibitions, “beer-goggles” can take over and make that 4.5 at the end of the bar seem like an eleven. You’ll see clearly in the morning. (Again, sorry).

Beer is both fat-free and cholesterol-free.

True: Check the label. Nutritionally, a beer is similar to a soft drink in its calories and carbs, but can your coke curb cancer?

Beer could save the Three Blind Mice.

True: John Trevithick, Ph.D., and Maurice Hirst, Ph.D. conducted a study that suggests beer reduced the incidence of cataracts in mice (but increased their propensity to “go wild” and get tattoos they’ll regret later in life - my own inference). If the same cataract protection occurs in humans, it would be especially beneficial to people with diabetes.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Benjamin Franklin said it; it must be true!

Before you run down to your local, like all foods and drinks with health benefits, moderation is the key. The health risks associated with excess alcohol consumption are widely known, which means the known benefits of moderate alcohol consumption should not be used as an excuse to over indulge.

One or two small beers a day can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. But don’t overindulge or you’ll watch your beer belly blossom. Drink responsibly and in moderation.

Please note that a drink or unit of alcohol is half a pint of beer, lager, ale or stout, a measure of spirits or a glass of wine (125 ml).

According to the recommended daily units of alcohol is 3-4 units for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine).


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