Health benefits of beer

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. - For many, it just wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without a pint! In fact, 13 million pints of Guinness and countless cups of green beer are chugged around the world every March 17th.

While we've heard all about the bad things beer can do to our bodies, in moderation it could do some good too.

"It's like the best job ever," said Eric, a brewmaster.

Eric's concoctions can intoxicate, but they could also medicate.

"Well alcohol's been used as medication for forever and ever," said Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Florida.

Nixon, who is an addiction expert, says, like red wine, drinking beer can be good for your heart.

"That's something that the beer industry has not really capitalized on," Nixon explained.

An Italian study of more than 200,000 people found those who drank a pint a day, had a 31 percent decrease in heart disease risk. Beer can also raise HDL, the good cholesterol, in your body.

A 2009 study found the high levels of silicon in beer can be good for bones, but too many could mean more fractures.

"We also know that there's a line between too much alcohol being bad for bones," explained Nixon.

Harvard studies found beer can prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke, and that a few beers a day lowered the risk of diabetes in middle-aged men by 25 percent.

Research in Europe found moderate beer drinkers had 30 percent higher levels of the disease-fighting vitamin B6 compared to non-drinkers.

"But, you can't substitute a beer for your multivitamin," said Nixon.

Nixon says, moderation is key. It's recommended women have no more than one drink a day and men, no more than two, because the organ systems that benefit from a few beers, "Are the same organ systems that are comprised when you cross the line," she said.

A few more benefits of beer, a study in Finland reports that men who drank a few bottles daily lowered their risk of kidney stones by 40 percent.

Also, researchers have found marinating a steak in beer could reduce the risk of cancer. It wipes out the majority of carcinogens that are produced when meat is fried in a pan.

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