Beer, long celebrated for its nutritional benefits, has been brewed for tens of thousands of years. While in modern times beer consumption might not be as closely associated with good health as it was in the past, a closer look at what beer is made of proves that the beverage does offer true health benefits. Its surprisingly simple ingredients have supported civilizations throughout human history, and although modern technology has allowed brew masters to tinker with precision of taste, the brewing process has remained relatively the same.
All beer is made from four basic ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. Although corn, rice, spices or fruit can sometimes be added.
Barley is a grain that is perfect for making beer. It consists of many strains and varieties that influence the final taste of the beer. Brewers combine the water and barley to create a sugary liquid, called wort (pronounced “wert”), which feeds the yeast and creates the fermentation process, creating alcohol and carbon dioxide. Hops are added to flavor the wort. And after ten or so days, beer is born!
Benefits of Beer
Despite our long relationship with alcohol, it has been banned and reinstated in cultures across the globe almost from the beginning of its use. Today alcohol abuse, drunk driving, high calories and many-an-ill-fated decision have overshadowed the numerous health benefits of drinking beer in moderation.
It has been said that we have the invention of beer and bread to thank for humankind’s ability to stop constantly searching for food and start building cities, planes, cell phones and, of course, stretch-mark cream.
While no one is suggesting the beer and bread diet, won’t it be nice to enjoy a cold one knowing you’re actually drinking to your health?
Before your husband’s beer belly convinces you beer is a luxury your skinny jeans can’t afford, consider that it has no fat. It’s true. Beer is 100 percent fat free. The catch is in the alcohol, which contains 153 calories, according to the USDA, for one 12-ounce regular beer. Also, studies have found that most lifestyles that include a high-beer intake also include a poor, high-fat diet. So maybe the beer’s not to blame for the belly, more likely it’s the chili cheeseburger and fries accompanying the beer that’s responsible for the weight gain.
Beer, from the barley, is high in fiber – so high in fact, that a liter contains almost 20 percent of a person’s recommended daily value. It’s also high in fiber, which helps to slow the absorption of food and lower cholesterol levels.
Thanks to the hops, beer contains a compound called Xanthohumol, which has been shown to prevent cancer and may also be used someday as a hormone therapy for women.
Very few beers contain unrefined sugar added after the fermentation process, and it is naturally cholesterol free.
Compared to regular beer, light beer has fewer calories but contain relatively the same level of beneficial ingredients. If calories are an issue, there’s no reason not to indulge in a light beer a couple times a week alongside a healthy meal.
Aside from its physical benefits, beer can be a great stress reliever after a long day of work, and it works wonders to help smooth out an uncomfortable first date. Enjoy responsibly.