Feel guilty about drinking a beer or two? Don’t feel guilty. Contrary to what you might expect, moderate beer consumption is actually good for you. Science has shown that beer can bring many surprising health benefits even though it’s usually perceived as unhealthy. Just remember, we’re talking moderate consumption (one drink per day for women, and up to two for men), not all-night drinking sprees. Here are some remarkable and surprising beer benefits that might change your perception of the drink.

1. It can help reduce risk of heart disease

One eye-opening study involving 200,000 subjects conducted at Italy’s Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura found that people who drank a pint of beer daily had a 31% reduced chance of heart disease. This heart-protecting power of beer stems largely from beer’s natural antioxidants called phenols. However, the study also showed risk of heart disease increased in people who consumed higher amounts of beer.

2. It can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Perhaps one of the most remarkable health benefits of beer is its ability to protect against Alzheimer’s. Researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine analyzed several studies and came to the conclusion that moderate beer drinkers were 23% less likely to develop different forms of dementia and cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s. The silicon content in beer is thought to protect the brain from the harmful effects of high amounts of aluminum in the body, which are one of the possible causes of Alzheimer’s.

3. It can help lower risk of diabetes

This is another remarkable benefit of moderate beer consumption. According to a 2011 Harvard study of about 38,000 middle-aged men, those who drank one to two beers daily had a 25% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The alcohol content in beer increases insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent diabetes. Moreover, beer is a good source of soluble fiber that plays an important role in the healthy diet of people suffering from diabetes.

4. It can help prevent kidney stones

A study conducted in Finland established that moderate daily consumption of beer can reduce the risk of developing kidney stones by 40%. This health benefit is attributed to beer’s high water content (about 93%) that helps flush harmful toxins out of the body and keep the kidneys working properly. Also, compounds in hops used in brewing help slow the release of calcium from bones, which in turn prevents build up of lost calcium in the kidney in the form of stones.

5. It can help minimize risk of cancer

Beer contains an important antioxidant known as xanthohumol. Xanthohumol is known to have powerful anti-cancer properties that help fend off cancer-causing enzymes in the body. Specifically, moderate beer consumption helps prevent a certain chemical reaction that can lead to prostate cancer in men. Beer has also been shown to reduce the chances of getting breast cancer in women.

6. It can help reduce cholesterol levels

If you’d like an unorthodox method for cutting your cholesterol levels, indulging in moderate beer consumption may be the way to go. The barley used in brewing of beer contains a type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucans that has been shown to help in lowering cholesterol levels.

7. It can help manage blood pressure

You may also be interested to know that beer can help manage blood pressure. That’s according to a Harvard study that found that women aged 25 to 40 who drank beer moderately were significantly less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to women who drank wine or other alcoholic beverages.

8. It can help strengthen bones

Beer contains decent levels of silicon, an element that is linked with bone health. One study conducted at Tufts in 2009 established that older individuals who drank one or two glasses of beer daily had higher bone density, and thus were less prone to fractures than those who did not enjoy a glass of beer or wine. However, the study also found that consuming more than two drinks increased risk of bone fractures.

9. It can help treat dandruff

Another interesting fact about beer is that it is considered one of the best natural treatments for dandruff. This particular health benefit of beer is attributed to its high yeast and vitamin B content levels. Just rinse your hair with a bottle of beer two to three times a week to get rid of dandruff and make your hair extra soft and shiny.

10. It can help cut down risk of strokes

Studies by the American Stroke Association have shown that people who drink moderate amounts of beer can cut their risk of strokes by – get this – a whopping 50% compared to non-drinkers. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health explain that moderate amounts of beer daily helps prevent blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, neck and brain, which is a leading cause of ischemic stroke. However, when you drink beer moderately, your arteries become flexible and blood flow improves significantly.

Remember the key to reaping these amazing health benefits of beer is moderate consumption. Overindulgence in beer and other alcoholic drinks can be disastrous to your health.

Featured photo credit: Infomastern via flickr.com

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