Good for your eyes and heart

New research touts health benefits of beer

Dec 17, 2000 - There's new research that antioxidants in beer can reduce the risk of cataracts and heart disease.


Researchers in Canada and the United States presented results at the 2000 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies showing that beer, especially the darker ales and stouts, may reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis and cataracts by as much as 50%.

Darker beers have more antioxidants than the lighter lager beers, according to Canadian researchers John Trevithick, Ph.D., and Maurice Hirst, Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario, and Joe Vinson, Ph.D., of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. The Canadian team focused on determining why antioxidants in beer seem to help reduce the risk of cataracts, especially in diabetics. Vinson investigated beer's beneficial effect in reducing the risk of heart disease.

In tests with rat lenses, Trevithick's laboratory found that antioxidants that act similarly to those in beer protect special parts of cells in the eye - called mitochondria. Damaged mitochondria can lead to an increased incidence of cataracts.

At the University of Scranton, Vinson, a professor of chemistry, found that giving hamsters the human equivalent of two beers a day halved their rate of atherosclerosis. "This is a significant effect," he noted. "Beer has a fair amount of antioxidants compared to other beverages. There is a definite benefit from the antioxidants in the beer."

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