Beer has been the alcohol beverage of choice for Americans, despite the reputation of too much consumption causing a "beer belly." However, a recent study has found that unhealthy results are not always the case when drinking the alcoholic beverage.
Researchers from Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany, who published a study in Oxford’s Alcohol and Alcoholism Journal on Sept. 22, used a binge-drinking mouse model which found that mice that drank beer with hops experienced less liver damage than those who were exposed to other beverages like beer without hops and ethanol alcohol.
Hop plants are used to give beer a bitter taste during the brewing process and are used as preservatives and extend the life of the beverage. Rather than acting as an additional ingredient, hop plants have now grown to become a crucial ingredient in many popular beers.
Researchers divided the mice into four groups, one group received a neutral solution, another was given beer with hops, the other with given beer without hops and the final group was given ethanol alcohol. They were then observed for 12 hours.
It was determined that the mice that received the beer with hops had less fat in their livers compared to the mice that drank beer without hops. Mice that drank beer without the hops and the mice that drank the ethanol alcohol had the same amount of fat in their liver. "Our data suggest that hops content in beer is at least in part responsible for the less damaging effects of beer on the liver," researchers wrote in their study.
Researchers believe that the results may help explain why some believe that drinking hard liquor is associated with liver disease compared to those that drink beer. Despite the results, researchers will need to experiment further to determine if drinking beer with hops will have the same effect on humans as it did with mice.
Previous research had confirmed many benefits of drinking beer because of hops. In January 2015, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggested that regularly drinking beer may ward off the progression of neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Beer, which is rich in B-vitamins, has other important benefits to prevent other serious diseases. According to WebMD: "Beer is used for preventing diseases of the heart and circulatory system, including coronary heart disease, 'hardening of the arteries' (atherosclerosis), heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. It is also used to reduce the chance of death from heart attack and from another heart condition called ischemic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction."
Beer can also stimulate the appetite and digestion, and to increase the flow of breast milk. A September 2015 study by the University of Gothenburg found that "women who drink beer at most once or twice per week run a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack, compared with both heavy drinkers and women who never drink beer."