Nutritional and Health Benefits of Beer

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      Physicians should be aware of the growing evidence supporting the nutritional and health benefits of moderate consumption of alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle. The recently approved voluntary label on wine (“the proud people who made this wine encourage you to consult your family doctor about the health effects of wine consumption”) implies that physicians should promote wine as the preferred source of dietary alcohol. However, studies evaluating the relative benefits of wine versus beer versus spirits suggest that moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. From a nutritional standpoint, beer contains more protein and B vitamins than wine. The antioxidant content of beer is equivalent to that of wine, but the specific antioxidants are different because the barley and hops used in the production of beer contain flavonoids different from those in the grapes used in the production of wine. The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption have not been generally endorsed by physicians for fear that heavy consumers may consider any message as a permissive license to drink in excess. Discussions with patients regarding alcohol consumption should be made in the context of a general medical examination. There is no evidence to support endorsement of one type of alcoholic beverage over another. The physician should define moderate drinking (1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men) for the patient and should review consumption patterns associated with high risk.


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