For the second year in a row, St. Patrick’s Day is going to be a very subdued event.
Most places won’t have crowded pubs full of green-clad merrymakers next Wednesday.
But you can certainly still don the Irish colors, put on a pot of corned beef, and sing “Danny Boy” at the top of your lungs at home. Because on St. Patrick’s Day, we’re ALL at least a little bit Irish, no matter where we are.
But let’s face it. The MOST important part of any St. Patrick’s Day party isn’t the corned beef. And it’s not the green attire.
It’s the pint of Guinness.
But you don’t have to limit this treat to St. Patrick’s Day. Because studies show delicious dark brew beer packs some legitimate health benefits all year round as long as you make moderation your guide.
What DARK BREW can do for HEART HEALTH
Guinness is a dark and malty beer known as a stout. Stouts have a deeper flavor closer to coffee and chocolate than the brighter, lighter taste of traditional blonde-colored beer.
But the distinct flavor of hearty stouts isn’t the only thing that makes them different. They’re also LOADED with antioxidants. And both animal and human research has found that dark brews could even help protect cardiovascular health.
In one study, dogs with narrow blood vessels… the equivalent of atherosclerosis in people… were used. Some of the pups were given light beer to lap up. While other lucky pooches got the dark brews.
The blood alcohol content was the same in both sets of dogs. But the ones given darker beer had one key difference: They ended up with significantly less “sticking” in their clotting cells.
When researchers repeated the test in humans, they got very similar results. And less clotting could lead to better blood flow and improved overall heart health.
Beers bring even MORE benefits to the bar
These impressive results are almost certainly due to the high antioxidant content in stout beer. Because while those lighter brews are delicious, too, they don’t have quite the same antioxidant kick.
Plus, stouts bring a couple more nutritional benefits to the bar:
- Iron: Darker brews such as Guinness also deliver a little shot of iron in every glass. It’s not enough of the essential mineral to cut back on other sources of the nutrient, of course. But given how common it is to fall short in iron, every little bit helps.
- B vitamins: Stout typically contains a handful of B vitamins too. The Bs are critical for converting food into energy, supporting brain function, and cell metabolism. And they include B12 which can help improve mood and beat back the blues.
Now you know me, I’m not one to focus on calories. But for folks that care, and are counting them, ounce for ounce, Guinness beer actually has fewer calories than milk. And just like that moo juice, it will leave you with a fun, telltale “mustache.”
Don’t like darker brews? No problem. Lighter beers have some of their own health benefits. Hoppy IPAs, for example, are loaded with the dietary silicon your body can use to build stronger bones.
Plus, research has linked moderate alcohol drinking in general to significantly lower levels of beta-amyloid plaques. Those are the damaged brain proteins that are associated with dementia.
In other words, cracking open a cold one from time to time could even help improve your cognitive health. (For more on alcohol and Alzheimer’s risk see my earlier report here.)
Of course, if you’re not already a beer or booze fan, research like this isn’t a reason to start a habit. And if your meds don’t mix with alcohol, you absolutely should continue to steer clear.
But if you like a good brew and have your doc’s blessings, there’s no reason not to enjoy a drink from time to time. So go ahead and raise your glass high this St. Patrick’s Day.
As the Irish say, Sláinte!
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