In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought we’d give you some good reasons to enjoy the official beverage of the day–beer!
Some reports say that more than 4 billion pints of beer will be drunk worldwide for St. Patrick’s Day and in the U.S., officials find that when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend, drinking violations are up by some 25 percent.
And just in case you wanted to know (I did!) how beer is turned green–as well as the Chicago River–it’s vegetable-based dyes. So, if you want to participate in the St. Paddy’s Day festivities this year, and plan to drink, here’s some good news….
1. Light and Extra Light Beers Are a Calorie Bargain: There are several options for extra-light beer that can be as low as 55 calories per bottle (12 ounces) in the new Select 55. Many others are around 65 calories like Michelob Ultra, MGD 64, etc). Even regular light beer is 100 calories per 12-ounces compared to 150 in a regular beer. In a country that likes more for less, beer wins hands down. For comparison: An ounce of any distilled spirit or just four ounces of wine is 100 calories and a mixed drink can easily pack in 250-500 calories.
My favorite summertime drink consists of an extra-light beer (Select 55, MGD 64, Beck’s Premier Light or Michelob Ultra, Miller Select 55) mixed with equal amounts of Diet 7-Up or Diet Sprite. I believe Downunder they call this a Shandy, but on a hot summer day after a workout, I call it Devine.
2. Beer Has Antioxidants: A lesser-known fact about beer is that it does contain antioxidants. In a study at the University of Scranton, researchers quantified the phenolic antioxidants in beer and found ales contained the most, followed by lagers, light beer and non-alcoholic. Based on their findings, the researchers noted that beer actually contributes more antioxidants to the US diet than wine does. The researchers also provided beer to animals fed high-cholesterol diets and found that both dark beer and lagers decreased LDL-oxidation in the rodents, which helps protect the arteries from building up plaque. Beer’s antioxidants are thought to help temper inflammation in the blood vessels that are associated with heart disease. Another animal study at the University of Wisconsin found that a pint of Guinness Extra Stout (the really deeply colored beer) provided the same anti-clogging effects as a baby aspirin.
3. Beer May Be Good for the Brain: While it is known that ethanol has cardioprotective qualities to help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, newer studies show that there are neurological benefits of regular, non-binge drinking of beer, wine or spirits, provides neuroprotection as we age. Scientists have already discovered pathways by which alcohol exposure helps protect against rogue proteins that are highly associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions.
In general, people who drink in moderation (1 drink per day for women; 2 for men) are generally healthier than those who don’t drink. As long as one isn’t prone to addiction or have other health risks, there’s no harm in enjoying a beer.