5 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer

With Oktoberfest celebrations already in full swing, it's a perfect time to justify all the beer drinking you may be doing in the coming weeks. While the health benefits of red wine have been frequently reported, the plus-sides to beer aren't as widely known. So, crack open a cold one and check out these five reasons to imbibe-in moderation, of course.

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
According to several studies, including one done at the Institute of Epidemiology at the University of Muenster, moderate beer drinking reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. The reasons are simple: Alcohol can increase HDL-or "good" cholesterol-levels and reduces the chances of hardening of the arteries and thickening of the blood-two main contributors to heart attacks.
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Drink Your Vitamins
Years ago, Guinness used the slogan "Guinness is Good for You." It looks like they might have been right. According to a Dutch study conducted at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, beer drinkers had 30% higher levels of vitamin B6 in their blood than non-beer-drinkers-twice the amount of red-wine drinkers.
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Avoid Kidney Stones

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, risk of kidney stones was decreased 40% in middle-aged beer-drinking men, as compared to non-beer-drinkers. While the researchers couldn't determine which component of the beverage was responsible for the drop, the evidence of benefit was impressive.
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Help Women Age Better

A Harvard study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed moderate alcohol consumption assisted in preserving the mental faculties of older women, while a Tufts University study concluded alcohol can help preserve bone density, a frequent health issue for aging females. Additionally, some bioflavonoids found in hops (a major ingredient in beer) have similar properties as oestrogens, which may serve as a natural form of hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women.
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Prevent Cancer
While research is just beginning to explore the potential cancer-fighting agents in beer, early studies show xanthohumol, a compound found in hops, may help inhibit certain enzymes that can trigger cancer and aid the body in breaking down carcinogens. The compound is current being tested in hopes of creating a preventative treatment for prostate and colon cancers.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.