BBPA sets health record straight on beer

Related tags Cancer Alcoholic beverage

The potential health benefits of a glass or two of red wine are
frequently in the press, while beer is often described as a
calorie-ridden alternative. The British Beer and Pub Association
wants to set the record straight.

Last month the BBPA launched its Beautiful Beer campaign, aimed at improving the image of the maligned drink. One reason for the negative publicity surrounding beer is because wine is generally viewed as a possibly healthier and less calorific alternative.

However, according to the BBPA, a glass of beer with an alcoholic volume of 4.6 per cent alcoholic volume, has fewer calories not only than a similar measure of wine, but also milk or fruit juice.

The organization estimated that a 100 ml glass of beer (4.6% alc) contains 41 calories, while wine (12% alc) notches up 77 calories, milk 64 and orange juice 42. Spirits, according to the BBPA, clock in at a whopping 250 calories.

A spokesperson for the BBPA told, moreover, that they particularly want to get this message out to women, who may shy away from the drink because of its perceived calorific value.

"A number of different studies have been carried out by health professionals into the health benefits of beer and will we be including this is our PR campaign,"​ she added.

Last year, for example, research by scientists at the Universidade do Porto in Portugal found that polyphenols in wine and beer appeared to significantly decrease breast cancer cells.

Numerous experiments have shown that certain polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, can protect against heart disease and have anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties.

In one of the most well known examples, consumption of red wine, which contains the polyphenol resveratrol, has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Portuguese study concluded that xanthohumol, found in beer, was the most potent polyphenol over breast cancer cell growth: it showed its effect more rapidly and at a lower concentration than the others.

Similarly, a study carried out in Isreal back in 2003 found that a beer a day could help diminish the risk of heart attacks. In preliminary clinical studies of a group of men with coronary artery disease, the researchers showed that drinking one beer (12 ounces) a day for a month produced changes in blood chemistry that are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack.

Changes observed in the blood of the test participants following beer-drinking include decreased cholesterol levels, increased antioxidants and reduced levels of fibrinogen, a clot-producing protein, reported the researchers.

In general, though, researchers are cautious about extolling the virutues of drinking alcohol because of the known negative health effects.

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