Beer healthy as wine

A drink a day can help combat heart disease, cancer, more

Sept 15, 2004 - Another study, this one out of Canada, reminds beer drinkers they can reap the same health benefits from their favorite beverage as they can from red wine. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario found a drink of either beer or wine provided equal increases in plasma antioxidant activity.


The increases help prevent the oxidization of blood plasma that triggers diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and cataracts.

"We were very surprised one drink of beer or stout contributed an equal amount of antioxidant benefit as wine, especially since red wine contains about 20 times the amount of polyphenols as beer," said biochemist John Trevithick, one of ead researchers.

Polyphenols, the compounds in plants that help prevent UV damage from the sun and make their cell walls strong, are believed to have antioxidant benefits when consumed by humans. And even though red wine contains more polyphenols than beer, the study found that the body absorbs about equally effective amounts from beer and wine.

As with every other study, the report came with a warning to drink in moderation. This one was stronger than most. Trevithick said that the health benefit becomes a liability at three beers, when the negative effects of alcohol cancel the positive effects of antioxidant activity because the blood becomes pro-oxidant. This phenomenon is known as "hormesis" - small doses of a toxic substance can have beneficial effects while a large amount is harmful.

"You'd think that if one drink is good, three drinks would be better, but with a low dosage, you get a protective effect. A high dosage doesn't have that protective effect," said Trevithick.

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