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Can drinking beer actually be healthy?

History has gone back and forth about healthy value of beer, but multiple studies show moderation is key.

March is National Nutrition Month, which may give some gustatory pause on eating and craft beer drinking habits. In the paradise mecca of San Diego brewing, it’s easy to go glutton and forget about growing waistlines.

True, history has considered beer to be nutritious, particularly in the Middle Ages, when clean drinking water wasn’t readily available, and in the 1500s when Germans viewed beer as a standard part of their diet. For centuries, beer has kept laborers happy and hydrated, and possibly gave them nutrients they needed. But is it actually healthy?

Can beer really be healthy for you? (iStock)

Scientists around the globe have been studying this enticing question, and here’s some of what we know:

  • According to Harvard and University College London studies, moderate beer drinkers are less likely to have high blood pressure than those who imbibe in hard alcohol and cocktails.
  • A Finnish study found that beer drinkers can lower their chance of kidney stones by up to 40 percent. Here’s to all of those trips to the bathroom.
  • An Italian research study discovered moderate beer drinkers lowered their risk of heart disease significantly, around 40 percent.
  • A study from the University of Lanzhou, China found an antioxidant in hops may prevent dementia, fight inflammation and oxidation, and have anti-cancer properties.

What’s this word moderate mean?

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states moderate drinking as one drink a day for women and two for men. The bad news: That’s only 12 ounces of a 5 percent ABV beer. (Cue the collective gasp.)

How else can we help ourselves?

Cut back on the unhealthy bar food that usually accompanies drinking beer. We know you love it, but you don’t need chicken wings, onion rings, and cheese quesadillas with sour cream every time you order a pint. Treat yourself on occasion, but don’t reverse the healthy progress with lots of high fat foods.

Make better food choices by opting for healthier items on restaurant menus. To take away the temptation, here’s a few San Diego hotspots for more nutritious selections:

Cafe Gratitude

With a range of organic beer, wine, and even hard kombucha, the popular vegan restaurant offers one of the healthiest selection of drink and food pairings in the city. Try chasing your brew with a wellness shot instead of whiskey for a healthy way to imbibe. For culinary options, try the kale chips, the butternut squash dip or buffalo cauliflower for healthy, unique twists on classic bar food.

1980 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.736.5077 or cafegratitude.com

Organic Cafe Gratitude offers a guilt-free buzz. (Courtesy photo)

 

True Food Kitchen

This Fashion Valley favorite serves up a sizable menu of nutritious goodies. Trade out those regular bar staples with healthy Kale guacamole, roasted Brussel sprouts, or vegetable crudite. Look for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free indications on their menu.

7007 Friars Rd., Suite D394, Fashion Valley, (next to Bloomingdale’s), 619.810.2929 or truefoodkitchen.com

 

Underbelly

While there are certainly decadent dishes on the menu, you can choose to pair a craft beer with a variety of healthy options including seaweed salad, edamame and eggplant wrapped tofu, along with vegetarian and gluten-free dishes such as the Seedy Side Ramen with cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

North Park: 3000 Upas St., 619.487.9909; Little Italy: 750 W Fir St., #101, 619.269.4626, godblessunderbelly.com

UnderBelly. (Courtesy photo)

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