Beer may have certain health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. However, heavy or excessive beer consumption can lead to conditions such as cancer, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Manufacturers make beer by fermenting starches, usually malted barley, with yeast. The brewing process of modern beer involves using hops and other flavoring agents and typically contains about 3.5–10% alcohol.

While beer may have some health benefits, it can also negatively affect a person’s mental and physical health. Additionally, while this beverage contains some nutritional value, it is not suitable as an alternative to a nutritious, balanced diet.

Read this article to learn more about beer’s nutritional information, the benefits and side effects of drinking beer, and the recommended amount a person should drink.

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Although people view beer as a drink with little nutritional value, it does contain various nutrients.

The minerals within beer typically include:

  • calcium
  • copper
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • silicon
  • selenium
  • fluoride
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • sodium
  • zinc

The vitamins within beer usually include:

  • vitamin B1, or thiamin
  • vitamin B2, or riboflavin
  • vitamin B3, or niacin
  • vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid
  • vitamin B6
  • folate
  • choline
  • vitamin B12, or cobalamine
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin K

Beer also contains the following amino acids:

  • alanine
  • aspartic acid
  • glutamic acid
  • glycine
  • proline

Despite its reputation, light to moderate beer consumption may have positive health effects. It may even reduce the risk of some diseases.

Heart disease

Some research suggests that drinking beer may help decrease the risk of heart disease.

A recent review article from 2020 concludes that people who consume beer in moderate amounts have higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol — or “good” cholesterol, better vascular elasticity, and higher apolipoprotein A1 levels.

Another 2016 review article found that low to moderate beer consumption, which it defined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men, decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers for both studies defined low to moderate amounts as up to one can of 330 milliliters of beer containing around 5% alcohol daily for women and up to two cans for men.

Neurodegenerative disease

The same review article found that low to moderate beer consumption decreased the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Another review from 2019 claims that moderate beer consumption may help decrease the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Blood sugar control

Some studies show how low to moderate alcohol consumption may help control blood sugar levels, an issue for many adults.

For example, a 2018 study concludes that low to moderate alcohol consumption has associations with better blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Another study from 2019 concludes that moderate alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of developing dementia.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causes the bones to become brittle and more susceptible to breaks. The risk for this disease increases as a person ages.

Some research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may help decrease the risk of osteoporosis.

For example, a 2019 study found that postmenopausal women from South Korea who drank 2–3 times per week had higher bone density than South Korean postmenopausal women who did not drink.

However, it is important to note that to achieve any of the potential positive side effects of drinking beer or alcohol, people must do so responsibly. This means drinking low to moderate amounts and not engaging in excessive drinking.

Although drinking beer may have some positive health outcomes, this only appears relevant when people drink the beverage in light or moderate amounts.

Heavy or excessive drinking may lead to negative health consequences, including:

  • cancer
  • liver failure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diabetes
  • pancreatic disease
  • infectious diseases
  • neuropsychiatric diseases
  • weight gain
  • depression

People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol may also be more likely to engage in risky behavior, potentially leading to major bodily injury or death.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americanssuggest consuming a moderate amount of alcohol. The authors define this as 1 drink for women and 1 drink for men. In beer, one drink consists of 12 ounces of this beverage.

Drinking more than recommended guidelines may result in negative health outcomes.

Recommendations on drinking beer appear to be inconclusive. However, it seems people can safely consume beer as long as they do not do so excessively. Individuals should try not to drink more than the recommended amount.

Even though beer contains a variety of nutrients, people should not turn to beer for its nutritional value. Eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins should be more of a priority.

Beer is a fermented beverage that people have been consuming for years.

Light to moderate amounts of beer may help decrease the risk of diseases such as heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

While there appears to be some benefit to drinking beer, it is not a beverage that individuals should consume excessively. Heavy or excessive drinking may lead to numerous negative health effects.

Beer contains many nutrients, but people should not consume it as a way to increase nutrient intake. Instead, they should focus on following a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.