The health benefits of Guinness

Ever wondered if there might be any health benefits to Guinness? With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, many of us will be looking forward to supping on a pint of Ireland’s most popular brew.

Guinness is a dry stout made from water, barley, roasted malt extract, hops and brewer’s yeast. Its well-loved flavour and distinctive dark colour comes from roasting a portion of the barley during the brewing process.

We all know that drinking excessive levels of alcohol isn’t good for us but, as the old advertising slogan (“Guinness is good for you”) suggests, the Irish stout has a more impressive nutritional profile that many other boozy beverages. Discover the surprising health benefits of Guinness below.

Guinness has a relatively low alcohol content

Guinness contains less alcohol by volume than a typical draught. On average, beer contains 5% ABV, while Guinness clocks in at just 4.2%.

Guinness is not as high in calories as we might suspect

Known for its creamy texture, rich caramel-tinged flavour, and deep colour, many assume that Guinness is high in calories. But, at just 210 calories a pint, it’s actually lighter than many other dark beers.

Its creamy texture is not associated with increased calories because it comes from using nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide in the carbonation process. Nitrogen bubbles are much smaller than their carbon alternatives, creating a smooth, creamy and less fizzy finish.

Guinness may help to boost iron levels

Though certainly not recommended today, Guinness was once given to post-operative patients and pregnant or nursing women in an attempt to fortify iron levels.

One Guinness contains 0.3mg of this essential mineral, making up approximately 3% of our recommended daily intake. But, with a single egg yolk containing as much iron as three pints of Guinness, there may be healthier ways to boost our iron levels.

Guinness may improve bone health

As well as being the hormone responsible for keeping our menstrual cycle ticking, estrogen is essential for maintaining strong, healthy bones. As our estrogen levels decline during perimenopause and beyond, our bones become more vulnerable to breaks and fractures.

Guinness and many other beers may help to combat this as they contain hops which are phytoestrogens. A phytoestrogen is a plant chemical that can bind to the estrogen receptors in the body and mimic the effects of our bodies natural hormones. The mildly estrogenic effects of hops were first noticed when the girls who were employed to harvest hops started menstruating earlier than similarly aged women not working in the fields.

This may help to explain why a 2009 study has shown that moderate beer consumption can help to promote bone mineral density, and of a study of 1,700 women, those who were considered moderate beer drinkers had the highest bone density.

Guinness may help to keep us sharp

Though a pint may make us feel temporarily fuzzy, a new study indicates that mild to moderate alcohol consumption may actually protect against cognitive disorders that come with age.

Guinness may improve heart health

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin found that drinking Guinness can help reduce blood clots and the risk of heart attacks.

Like red wine and dark chocolate, Guinness contains antioxidants that are believed to slow down the deposits of harmful cholesterol on the artery walls. The darker the beer, the more anti-clotting activity, researchers found. However, experts have warned that even though drinking dark beer may have heart-healthy properties, the extra calories could negate any benefit as excess weight is also a risk factor for heart disease.

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