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Is Guinness really ‘good for you’?

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But can you add this creamy, rich, and filling beer to a list of healthy drinks? Or is your reputation just good marketing? We researched the history of beer and talked to beer experts and discovered the good, the not-so-great and the wit of Guinness.

The original Guinness is a type of beer known as stout. Made from a grain (grain) that includes a lot of toasted barley, which gives it an intense burnt flavor and a very dark color. And while you may not consider it as healthy as a vegetable, doors in general, as well as other beers, may be justified in at least some of their nutritional rights to brag about.

According to Charlie Bamforth, a professor of brewing science at the University of California, Davis, most beers contain significant amounts of antioxidants, B vitamins, the mineral silicon (which can help protect against osteoporosis). ), soluble fiber and prebiotics, which promote the growth of “good” bacteria in the gut.

And Guinness may have a slight advantage over other beers, even compared to other grains.

“We showed that Guinness contained the highest amount of folate from imported beers we analyzed,” Bamforth said. Folate is a B vitamin that our body needs to make DNA and other genetic materials; it is also necessary for the cells to divide. According to their research, stouts contain an average of 12.8 micrograms of folate, or 3.2% of the recommended daily amount.

Because Guinness contains a lot of unmalted barley, which contains more fiber than malted grain, it is also one of the beers with the highest levels of fiber, according to Bamforth. (Note: Although the USDA lists beer that contains zero grams of fiber, Bamforth said its research proves otherwise).

Bamforth researched and co-authored studies published in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing and the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists, The Science of Beer.

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Here’s some better news about Guinness: despite its rich flavor and creamy consistency, it’s not the highest in calories compared to other beers. A 12-ounce serving of Guinness Draft has 125 calories. In comparison, the same serving of Budweiser has 145 calories, a Heineken has 142 calories and a Samuel Adams Cream Stout has 189 calories. In the United States, Guinness Extra Stout, by the way, is 149 calories.

This makes sense when alcohol is considered to be the main source of calories for beers. Guinness Draft has a lower alcohol content, with 4.2% alcohol by volume (ABV), compared to 5% for Budweiser and Heineken and 4.9% for Samuel Adams Cream Stout.

In general, moderate alcohol consumption, defined by the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, since no more than two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women can protect against heart disease. Therefore, you can check another box.

The not so big

Guinness is still alcohol and consuming too much can affect judgment and contribute to weight gain. Intense drinking (considered more than 15 drinks a week for men or more than eight drinks a week for women) and excessive consumption (five or more drinks for men and four or more for women, in an approximate two-hour period) are also associated with many health problems, including liver disease, pancreatitis, and high blood pressure.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, “alcohol is the most widely used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more engaged in risky, over-drinking patterns that can lead to alcohol problems. ”

And while moderate alcohol consumption can have some heart benefits for some, so can alcohol consumption increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer for each drink consumed daily.
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Many decades ago, in Ireland, it would not have been strange for a doctor to advise pregnant and lactating women to drink Guinness. But today, experts (especially in the United States) warn of the dangers associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

“Alcohol is a teratogen, which is something that causes birth defects. It can cause damage to the fetal brain and other organ systems,” said Dr. Erin Tracy, an obstetrician / gynecologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor. assistant obstetrician at Harvard Medical School. , gynecology and reproductive gynecology. “We do not know of any safe dose of alcohol during pregnancy; therefore, it is recommended to abstain completely during this short period of time of a woman’s life.”

What about breastfeeding beer? “In Britain, they have a culture that drinking Guinness is good for nursing mothers,” said Karl Siebert, professor emeritus in the food science department and former director of the Cornell University brewery program.

Beer has generally been considered a galactagogue, or stimulant of breastfeeding, for much of history. In fact, according to irishtimes.com, women who were breastfeeding in Ireland were given a bottle of Guinness a day at maternity wards.

According to Domhnall Marnell, the Guinness ambassador, Original Guinness (also known as Guinness Extra Stout, depending on where it was sold) debuted in 1821 and, for a time, contained live yeasts, which had a high iron content, given to anemic individuals or nursing mothers, before the effects of alcohol were fully understood.

Some studies have shown that the ingredients in beer can increase prolactin, a hormone needed for milk production; others have shown otherwise. Regardless of the findings, beer alcohol also appears to counteract the benefits associated with increased prolactin secretion.

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“The problem is that alcohol temporarily inhibits the milk expulsion reflex and the overall milk supply, especially when ingested in large quantities, and chronic alcohol consumption permanently reduces the milk supply,” he said. say Diana West, co-author of “Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk” “

“Barley can be eaten directly or even brewed with commercial barley drinks, which would be less problematic than drinking beer,” West said.

If you are still not convinced that beer is harmful to breastfeeding, keep in mind this fact: a nursing mother who drinks any type of alcohol puts her baby in potential danger. “The fetal brain still develops after birth and since alcohol passes into breast milk, the baby is still at risk,” Tracy said.

“This is something we wouldn’t advocate today,” Marnell agreed. “We would not recommend anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding to enjoy our products during this time of their life.”

Regarding the old women’s account of the effects of beer on breastfeeding, Marnell added: “It’s not something that Guinness has perpetuated … and if (people still say it), I’d like to say it about once and for all, it is not something we support or recommend. “

The ingenuity

Assuming you’re healthy and have the green light to drink beer, you may be wondering why Guinness feels like you’ve consumed a meal, despite its calorie and alcohol content.

It has to do with the sophistication of producing and pouring Guinness. According to Bamforth, for more than half a century, Guinness has introduced nitrogen gas into its beer at the bottling stage, which provides smaller, more stable bubbles and provides a more exquisite mouthfeel. It also tempers the harsh burnt character that comes from toasted barley. Guinness cans, which contain a widget to control spillage, also have some nitrogen.

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Guinness is also distributed through a special faucet that uses a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. “In Ireland, Guinness had a long history of hiring the best and brightest college graduates regardless of what they were trained for,” Siebert said. “And they put them to work on the things they needed. One was a special faucet to dispense Guinness, which has 11 different nozzles, which helps form the foam with fine bubbles.”

The foam has an extraordinary durability. “After you get a freshly poured Guinness, you can make a face in the foam, and when you finish drinking it, the face will still be there,” Siebert said.

“It’s a good day for a Guinness,” unless she’s pregnant

Guinness’s famous advertising slogans, including “It’s a good day for a Guinness,” began with word of mouth, Marnell said. “In 1929, when we were about to make our first announcement, we asked ourselves (ourselves),‘ What position should we take? So we sent a group of vendors (to Ireland and the UK) to ask Guinness drinkers why they chose Guinness and nine out of ten said they believed beer was healthy for them. We already had this reputation in the bars we uttered a word about beer.

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“This led to Gilroy’s ads being published,” Marnell explained, referring to artist John Gilroy, who was responsible for Guinness ads from 1928 to the 1960s. “You’ll see the characters who represent the brand. Guinness (the toucan, the pelican) and slogans like “Guinness is good for you” or “Guinness for strength.” But they were from the twenties, thirties and forties. “

Today, he said, the company would not claim any health benefits from its beer. “If anyone has the impression that there are health benefits to drinking Guinness, I’m unfortunately the bearer of bad news. Guinness is not going to build muscle or cure you of the flu.”

In fact, Guinness’s parent company, Diageo, devotes much effort to supporting responsible drinking initiatives and educating consumers about the effects of alcohol. His DrinkIQ page provides information such as calories from alcohol, how your body processes it, and when alcohol can be dangerous, even during pregnancy.

“One of the main things we focus on … is that while we would love for people to enjoy our beer, we want to make sure they do it in the most responsible way possible,” Marnell said. “We would never recommend that everyone drink excessively and (we want to make people) aware of how alcohol affects the body.”

And again, most U.S. health care providers would advise giving up all alcohol if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have other medical or health problems where alcohol consumption is not recommended.

So responsibly celebrate this year St. Patrick’s Day a little more cautious about the health benefits and risks with one of your drinking drinks.

This story was originally published in 2017.

Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and CNN contributor to health and nutrition.

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