A Toast To Your Good Health

Beer suffers from an image problem because it's the most popular alcoholic drink and lacks the cachet of wine or fancy spirits, such as cognac. Although red wine gets much of the credit for the healthful Mediterranean diet, health researchers report that the vitamins and antioxidants in beer help to protect against heart disease and may even lower the risk for some types of cancers.

A story in the Electronic Telegraph explains that the B vitamins in beer help to reduce a substance called homocysteine, which boosts the risk of heart attack and stroke. Science Daily adds that antioxidants in beer may even lower the risk for some cancers.

A wire service story from The Times of India adds that the antioxidants that come from the hops in beer pack more antioxidant power than either vitamin E or genistein, the antioxidant in soy. Unfortunately, beer only has small amounts of these compounds, and to achieve a healthful effect, a person would have to drink 2,000 liters of beer a day.

One solution may be to put beer's potent antioxidant in pills, the Electronic Telegraph explains. Until supplements containing hop extracts hit the stores, a type of beer known as India pale ale might be the next best thing. It's one of the most heavily hopped styles of beers made.

Beer's benefits come only with moderate drinking, however. Numerous health studies show that the health benefits of alcohol -- in any form -- quickly become health hazards in people who drink more than two drinks per day on average. Alcohol abuse can cause cancer, brain damage and many other problems.