A possible relief to beer drinkers everywhere, researchers at UC Davis recently published analysis defending the notion that beer can be healthy.
Charles Bamforth, a professor, and Troy Casey, a graduate student in the Food Science and Technology department, published the research in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
The conclusion of the research states that beer is a rich source of silicon, which is linked to healthy bone growth and countering atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty material collects along artery walls.
“We measured a diversity of beers and raw materials for silicon,” Bamforth said in an e-mail interview. “Also, we did trial brews to follow the course of silicon throughout brewing. Silicon measurements were made in the excellent [Agriculture and Natural Resources] laboratory on campus.”
Testing found that silicon levels are highest in beers made of pale malted barley and hops. The highest levels can be found in beers like India Pale Ales, Bamforth said.
Nonetheless, some students said the findings make little difference in their drinking habits.
“If it was shown that there was a significant benefit to switching [beer brands] then I would,” said Luke Nio, a junior viticulture and enology major. “But I don’t see the point if the beer is consumed in moderation. I believe that all forms of alcohol are about even [health wise] only when drunk in moderation.”
Ted Kizor, a first-year viticulture and enology major, who has taken Bamforth’s brewing course, also said that moderation is key when understanding beer.
“In reasonable amounts, two to three glasses of beer per night, that’s 12 ounce bottles of beer, can actually improve your health,” Kizor said.
“A common misconception with beer is that it’s empty calories. But the largest source of calories in any alcoholic beverage is the alcohol. So for people to say that beer has empty calories, so does vodka, so does rum. So does everything alcoholic.”
Beer and vodka are the most common consumed alcohol beverages at UC Davis, according to the campus Health Education and Promotion (HEP) Center.
“[At] every college there is overconsumption of alcohol,” said Angelo Ercia, Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Risk reduction Health Educator for HEP. “There are students who engage in drinking games and binge drinking and when they do participate, there is the potential to overconsume.”
To avoid this, Ercia said students who chose to drink should be aware of their limit.
Ercia said the campus provides services for students to calculate their drinking limits, such as the e-chug survey that can be found on safeparty.ucdavis.edu.
Nevertheless, Bamforth said he hopes this research disproves the reputation of beer as unhealthy.
“Contrary to prejudiced statements from some quarters, beer is certainly not empty calories and in fact is probably the healthiest of alcoholic beverages,” Bamforth said. “We are illustrating that UC Davis’ brewing program is generating meaningful and worthwhile data on beer for use in the California, national and international arena.”
BECKY PETERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.