A study conducted at the University of New England (UNE) has shown that beer has the same positive effect as wine through the reduction of the cholesterol content and the prevention of cell death in the body.
Professor Ken Watson from the School of Biological, Biomedical and Molecular Science in UNE studied the effect of drinking on the level of antioxidant in the blood.
“Moderate drinking produces two effects”, says Watson. “There’s the alcohol that reduces the bad cholesterol and increases the good cholesterol, and there’s also the presence of antioxidants in the drink itself”. “From this standpoint, beer is just as good as wine”, he adds.
Antioxidants in wine, known as polyphenols, are present in the seeds and skins of grapes and are concentrated during the fermentation process.
They act as removers of free radicals, destructive forms of oxygen that damage the DNA and can lead to a premature ageing and death of the cell. The research by Professor Watson and his team, which was made up entirely of men, consisted of the drinking of beer and red and white wine during a series of sessions lasting two hours each. Blood samples were taken at regular intervals.
The level of antioxidants in the blood rose after the drinking of red wine and beer, but less so after the drinking of white wine.
“Thanks to our work we have exploded the myth that red wine is a more effective source of antioxidants than beer”, says Watson. “The scientific proof that moderate drinking is good for the health is now overwhelming”.
However, that does not mean that the level of antioxidants continues to increase the more you drink. According to Watson there was no further increase in the protective effect after the consumption of two standard drinks. He added that total abstainers did not have to go over to alcohol because of the advantages of antioxidants, which are present in grape juice anyway.
“This does not mean that a non-drinker or a total abstainer must take up drinking”, said the professor. “What we’re saying is that it’s good news for the moderate drinker, but moderation remains the key”.
Moderate drinking is defined as two standard drinks per day for men and one to two per day for women. Professor Watson hopes to be able to repeat his research with female subjects.