Can a beer a day keep the doctor away?

As surprising as it sounds, beer could be considered a health food…

That’s because beer contains hops, and hops are a great source of antioxidants, including the flavonoid xanthohumol, which can lower cholesterol, blood sugar levels and lower body weight.

Now, heavy beer drinkers are not usually the picture of health (as evidenced by their characteristic beer gut) — and we’d never recommend you become one…

But drinking beer in moderation — or better yet getting xanthohumol in supplement form — can help reduce inflammation in your body, improve your heart health and even help you lose weight.

Researchers at Oregon State University recently found that mice who consumed higher levels of xanthohumol had 80 percent lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, 42 percent lower insulin levels and 78 percent lower levels of inflammation.

“This is the first time we’ve seen one compound with the potential to address so many health problems,” said Cristobal Miranda, a research assistant professor with OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and lead author on the study. “These were very dramatic improvements.”

The only caveat here is that in order to get enough xanthohumol from your beer to experience these benefits, you’d have to drink a lot — way more than is advisable — especially if you’re drinking it for the health benefits. So it’s a safer bet to take xanthohumol in supplement form.

Based on their results with mice, researchers estimated that a human would have to take 350 mg of xanthohumol per day to experience comparable health benefits.

But beer, regardless of its xanthohumol content, still has health benefits. That’s because it contains a lot of other antioxidants which fight free radicals in your body, slowing the aging process and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

So here are a few tips on enjoying a healthier beer now and then…

  • Go organic when selecting beer… that would mean choosing beer made with hops that haven’t been sprayed with toxic pesticides. This is a definite plus when it comes to your health and reducing your toxic load.
  • Microbrews are better than mass-produced beers because they contain more hops and therefore more antioxidants. You should also reach for a darker brew rather than a “light” one because dark beers are higher in antioxidants as well.
  • Don’t forget to consider your calorie and carb intake, because beer is notoriously high in both. If you’ve had a day where your diet was a little indulgent (maybe you had pancakes for breakfast or pizza for lunch) save the beer for another day. Certain beers are also lower in calories and carbs than others, so read your beer labels to see what you’re really getting from your favorite bottle of beer.
  • And always remember, drinking more than one to two beers per day will do your body more harm than good, so keep moderation in mind every time you crack open a cold one.
  1. “Xanthohumol in lab tests lowers cholesterol, blood sugar and weight gain.” Oregon State University. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
  2. “The surprising health benefits of beer.” Fox News. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and