Think Before You Drink: Spotlight on Beer
I think most people have trouble accepting the fact alcohol has calories. Nevertheless, the next healthy mixer, clear alcohol alternative, or healthiest wine is always around the corner. The facts about alcohol’s nutritional value (or lack thereof) and how unhealthy it can end up being are indisputable, no matter how careful you may be on a given night out. Wine and liquor are something to indulge in every once and a while, for they are almost impossible to fit into your calorie count for the day, ESPECIALLY if trying to get drunk.
In honor of this past week’s St. Patrick’s Day, I felt that I needed to put the spotlight on beer, the beloved drink that I didn’t go in much depth with prior to now: beer. Beer is an acquired taste for many, and comes in all different types. Besides the green beer that was of over abundance on March 17th, beer can range in taste, calories, colors, and strength. It has even been credited for having some nutritional value.
Could this be so? Is there hope?
What Is In Beer (provided by The Beer Academy)
Unlike how wine is made almost solely from grapes, beer has a longer list of ingredients varying from brew to brew. The main ingredients include: barley, hops, water, and yeast. Barley provides the starch used for malting, hops provides the taste, water provides the minerals, and yeast provides the fermentation process, also known as the alcohol and carbon dioxide production process.
Different amounts of each ingredient can alter the brew, and therefore, create variety amongst different beers. That is why you can taste the difference between different company’s beers. Stella Artois and Heineken’s lagers provide a lighter hops and malt taste, while Guinness’s roasted malt barley provides it with it’s dark color and deep, distinct flavor.
The Nutrition of Beer
Just like wine, beer’s nutritional varies. According to Beer For Dummies, the standard nutritional facts set by the government for a typical 12-ounce serving of beer are as followed: 151 calories, zero fat, zero cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 13 grams carbohydrates, and 1.1 grams protein. When comparing the values of typical commercial beers such as Budweiser and it’s diet-friendly brew, Bud Light: a typical 12-ounce serving of Budweiser contains 35 more calories, 4 more carbs, and .8% more alcohol than Bud Lite.
Some studies have even indicated possible health benefits arising from beer consumption. An article written by Chloe Metzger on health.com entitled “5 Reasons Why Beer Is Actually Good for You” lists many possible benefits that are backed by research including: boosting heart health, reducing arthritis, and building stronger bones. Mens Health even published an article by Travis Rathbone suggesting that drinking lower-alcoholic beer after a workout can help with rehydration.
The Final Word?
Moderation. Beer’s nutritional value varies similar to wine, and provides different amounts of alcohol, calories, and carbohydrates depending on the brew. Yes, it may be considered to be a source of nutrients, but it is not something to turn to for your daily dose of carbohydrates. Beer does not stand up to a cup of fiber-rich brown rice, antioxidant-packed fruit, or beta-carotene containing sweet potatoes. The amount of beer you’d have to drink to obtain the same nutritional benefits as whole foods provide is probably impossible (just not worth it). Plus, that bloat from the carbon dioxide would just be down right uncomfortable.
Just like with wine and spirits as I’ve previously discussed, a splurge is okay, and exceptions for over-consumption are nonexistent. Drinking shouldn’t ever be associated with bettering your health like cleaning up your diet. It may possess some minor benefits that make it seem less-harmful, but it is no substitute for the mighty power of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.