What it may be good for: Your bones
Brewski is a rich source of silicon, a mineral that plays an important role in bone formation, a 2010 study in the Journal of Science and Food Agriculture suggests. Dietary sources like beer (cereal and green beans are others) may help maintain bone strength, a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology on postmenopausal women notes. However, heavy drinking of any alcohol is linked to osteoporosis, so in this case, more is definitely not better.
What it may be good for: Your heart
Vino gets all the attention for its disease-busting polyphenols, but it’s the ethanol (alcohol) that does half the work, 2012 research in the journal Nutrients suggests. Ethanol helps keep blood platelets from sticking together (and potentially clotting) and increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels, according to the research.
What it may be good for: Your mood
There’s no doubt that a little alcohol can help you let go of stress. “It puts you in a different head space,” Levy said. Yet, alcohol depresses your central nervous system, and heavier drinking clearly increases depression risk, he noted. If a single-finger pour of your favorite whiskey helps you unwind at night, that’s OK, but too much may lead to mood problems — not exactly the fix you were looking for.
What it may be good for: Your social bonds
Time for a toast! Social drinkers tend to be richer in the friend department, likely because alcohol triggers the release of endorphins, 2016 research from Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology reveals. And a group of pals provides a strong source of emotional support. Cheers!
So when it comes to alcohol, the key is moderation. Certainly, you don’t have to drink any alcohol, and if you currently don’t drink, don’t start drinking for the possible health benefits. In some cases, it’s safest to avoid alcohol entirely — the possible benefits don’t outweigh the risks.