Have yourself a BEERy merry Christmas

Published by Manila Bulletin, November 25, 2014

Christmas is in the air and for us Filipinos it may be the most celebrated holiday of the year. The festivities are not just about eating. For some, it’s all about drinking too!

Although this article is not meant to encourage non-alcoholic drinkers to start drinking solely for health benefits, people who enjoy drinking need not say good bye to alcohol either.

464Red wine has long enjoyed the limelight of being the No. 1 alcoholic beverage that has astounding health benefits due to it’s resveratrol content. Resveratrol is an antioxidant derived from grapes that promotes heart health by preventing platelet aggregation which causes atherosclerosis or coronary heart disease. These could lead to a fatal condition known as stroke.

While red wine is basking in its popularity around the world, let’s move closer to home where beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage.

Surprisingly, beer has a number of health benefits tantamount to that of red wine. It is primarily the ethanol in beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages that increases good cholesterol (HDL), lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), and reduces the risk of blood clotting.

Moderate beer consumption decreases the risk of developing kidney stones in men compared to other alcoholic beverages. This may be due to its high water content, diuretic effect, and compounds that slow the release of calcium from bones which is linked to kidney stone formation.

Beer also contains soluble fiber like the type found in oatmeal which can help lower cholesterol levels. The darker the beer color gets, the higher the fiber content.

Vitamin B12 and other B-Vitamins are also found in beer. Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood cell production, nervous system and brain health. However, alcohol can actually block the effectiveness of these vitamins.

Beer can also greatly impact bone health due to its silicon content. This element can help strengthen your skeletal system by increasing bone density. But take it easy and don’t replace your dairy products with beer because too much intake can actually weaken your bones.

How much alcohol consumption is beneficial and how much is detrimental to our health?

According to an article by James H. O’Keefe, M.D. et al which was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings on Feb. 26: “Habitual light to moderate alcohol intake (up to one drink per day for women and one or two drinks per day for men) is associated with decreased risks for total mortality, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, and stroke. However, higher levels of alcohol consumption are associated with increased cardiovascular risk.”


Beer – 12 ounces or 360ml

Wine – 5 ounces or 150 ml

Distilled spirits (80 proof) -1.5 ounces or 45 ml

Although beer has its health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation. After all, too much will not only damage your heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs but also cause you to gain weight. A 12-ounce bottle or a can of beer contains approximately 150 kcal. That is equivalent to eating 3/4 cup of rice.

People with medical conditions should avoid alcohol consumption and seek medical advice.

As we toast to good health this holiday season, remember to drink moderately and responsibly.