Is Beer Nutritious?
Is beer really a good source of B vitamins or other nutrients? Nutrition Diva blows the foam off the issue.
Q. Recently I received a homebrew beer-making kit as a gift. After a lot of work and several weeks of waiting, I ended up with a pretty tasty homemade beer. Is there any nutritional advantage of homebrew beer versus commercial beer? Is it healthy (in moderation, of course)?
A. I went through a beer making phase several years ago. I had just returned to the U.S. after living for a few years in Bavaria and I missed the beer. Unfortunately, I was not as skilled (or lucky) as you appear to be. After a lot of work and several weeks of waiting, I ended up with flat, sour, undrinkable beer.
So, first of all, congratulations on your success! And, yes, beer can be a decent source of nutrients.
How your beer compares to commercial brews depends on what kind of beer you're making. As a general rule, the sturdier craft beers (including your homebrew) are higher in nutrients than light beers. They are also frequently higher in alcohol and calories.
What Nutrients Does Beer Contain?
According to researcher and beer enthusiast Charles Bamforth, a half liter of beer can provide up to 25% of the daily requirement for niacin and vitamin C, up to 50% of your B6, and an entire day's worth of folate and B12, along with various other vitamins and minerals. Not too shabby! Margo Denke, another researcher, points out that the hops and barley used to make beer also contribute a signficant amount of antioxidants.
The best way to get the nutritional benefits of beer is, as you guessed, in moderation. But the next time some oenophile is going on about the health benefits of red wine, feel free to point out that moderate consumption of beer has the same health benefits as moderate consumption of wine. And that beer is even higher in many nutrients.
See also: How Much Alcohol Is Healthy?
Bamforth C. "Nutritional Aspects of Beer" Nutrition Journal. 2002. vol. 22, issue 1.
Denke MA. "Nutritional and Health Aspects of Beer" American Journal of Medical Sciences. 2000. vol 320, issue 5.
Tall glass of light beer image courtesy of Shuttersto>