The ABC's of Heart Healthy Dark Beer
Michael Arnold Glueck and Robert J. Cihak, The Medicine Men
Monday, Jan. 10, 2005
You gotta have heart! The country has become heart obsessed lately. Many of our best pain and arthritic medications have been given the tender boot because they are not heart-friendly.
The latest pain med to lose heart is A for Aleve. Before that B for Bextra and C for Celebrex. Originally came V for Vioxx in September. In a recent column, we discussed how the competition by many pharmaceutical companies should soon alleviate that problem.
But there is some good news already. Now, we're not advocating taking up drinking but if you're going to sit back on the couch in your t-shirt and baseball cap and watch the NFL Playoff games and have a cold brewski, make it a dark one.
Beer, according to those who have studied these things, actually predated bread in the evolution of the human repertoire of eats and drinks. The first definitive brewski probably emerged from some overcooked grain pot during the Neolithic Era.
This period also witnessed the birth of cities, the dawn of agriculture and animal husbandry, the discovery of the role of the male in the production of young uns and *a probable byproduct of all this war. After all, cities and farms gave you something worth conquering, while work and squealing babies could give you something worth getting away from.
Which brings us to football. Many consider the game a sublimation of war, and there is truth in this, even though football symbolizes some of the salient characteristics of American civilization.
Hyper-enthusiastic females who may or may not really care. Rather like the girls in those beer commercials they show ad nauseum during football games.
Which brings us back to beer . . . and health.
Multitudinous studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake may actually contribute to health. Usually, these studies caution that More research is needed, a scientific term that properly translates: We don't know whether more research is needed or not; please just renew our funding.
Many of these studies have emphasized the benefits of red wine.
But now come two studies suggesting that beer,* dark beer in particular, * may also confer heart and other health benefits.
Which brings us back to football. After all, if you re going to spend the next couple of months watching playoffs and Super and post-super residual bowls, you generally don't do it with a six-pack of chardonnay, a mug of merlot, or a stein of syrah.
A recent study by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University suggests that beer, dark or light, protects bone mineral density by facilitating the deposit of calcium and other minerals into bone tissue.
Other studies emphasize the health benefits of dark beer only. According to folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one brew a day for women and two for men provide flavonoids, antioxidants that help prevent clogged arteries and reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol and the subsequent hardening of the arteries.
So if you do drink, consider the darker varieties. And do remember: medically, consumption of alcohol beyond the moderate may negate these benefits and brings with it other hazards. Obesity, for one. Cirrhosis, for another. Neither is heart healthy
And then there s Dr. Mike's Rule. Never drink to excess when your team is a) winning, b) losing, or c) during those beer, fast car and insurance commercials. The ill inference is that you can drink and drive if you carry insurance. Above all don't have another one for your baby and one for the road.
Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D.. penned this week's heart healthy commentary