The discussion about the existence of a healthy beer is similar to long bar chats: everyone has their own opinion and often the arguments are not enough to convince those who disagree or not. The truth is that the drink, which is a favorite of Brazilians, is increasingly democratic thanks to the new versions, which have gained more space on supermarket shelves and a loyal audience.
You can find craft, alcohol-free (zero or low-content), light, low-carb, gluten-free, and even organic beers made with naturally grown ingredients without adding chemicals.
First of all, it is important to know that the Cisa (Health and Alcohol Information Center) recommends a maximum consumption of two drinks per day for men and one dose for women, considering a dose of 14 g of alcohol, which corresponds to 350 ml (one can) of beer. The difference occurs because women have lower levels of responsible enzymes metabolization of alcohol and take longer to eliminate it.
According to the consulted experts, the best options (with alcohol) are the most natural ones, with the fewest ingredients, without the addition of chemicals, that is, artisanal and organic. But the ideal would be a low calorie, non-alcoholic and natural one. This is because the studies are controversial. While some show that, in moderate doses, consumption protects the heart, others reveal that only a daily dose is already able to shrink the brain.
But, putting all these factors aside, would the drink still be considered beer in the country that loves it so much?
Beer also benefits
Unlike what many believe, (more natural) beer has a number of nutrients. In its composition, in addition to water, which corresponds to 90%, there are antioxidant substances, derived from hops and malt, which help in maintaining organic functions. “It has a protein and caloric intake, as well as mineral salts and some vitamins of the B complex, mainly”, lists Flávio Luís Schimdt, food engineer, professor at FEA-Unicamp (Faculty of Food Engineering, Campinas State University).
Giuliana Katonutritionist and executive director of the nutrition department at Socesp (Sociedade de Cardiologia do Estado de São Paulo), explains that the hop flowers, used in processing, which give the bitter and flavoring taste, also contain phenolic compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. “Additionally, brewer’s yeast is rich in micronutrients and considered a probiotic because it contains the fungus Saccharomices cerevisiae. “
Among the vitamins we find niacin (B3), which acts in the reduction of cholesterol and health in general, and the folate (B9), whose action is related to the formation of DNA. The minerals found are magnesium, which plays a role in the functioning of the body’s cells, phosphorus is involved in the repair of cells and tissues and selenium, with antioxidant properties, collaborates in the fight against free radicals.
“Recent studies have shown that moderate intake, including beer, can have a protective effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality compared to abstainers,” says Juliana. Kato.
However, there are health benefits only if the consumption is moderate and there is no intolerance to the ingredients and fermentation products.
It cannot be forgotten that beer is caloric: each 350 ml can contains 150 kcal. “Light must have up to 35 kcal per 100ml to receive this classification. However, a 350ml can would have 122.5 kcal, which is the reduction compared to the traditional one is not that significant. Calories and carbohydrates, there is still alcohol in composition “, says Mayara Bernardo, clinical and renal nutritionist at HC-UFPE (Hospital das Clínicas, Federal University of Pernambuco), connected to the Ebserh network (Brazilian Society of Hospital Services).
The advice for those looking for a healthier lifestyle is to always consult the nutritional table and the list of ingredients to find out what you are consuming.
It is possible to find on the market versions with low alcohol content, with an ethyl content lower than or equal to 0.5%. The so-called zero alcohol have a maximum alcohol content of 0.05% and those with low alcohol content, between 0.5 and 2%.
According to the HC-UFPE nutritionist, since it does not contain alcohol in its composition, its caloric value is also lower, since 1 g of alcohol equals 7 kcal. “The ‘alcohol-free’ can have up to 50% fewer calories than the traditional one and ends up being chosen even by those who want to lose weight or even maintain a healthy weight”.
Even with lower alcohol concentrations, they are not recommended for pregnant women. “There is consensus in the scientific community to advise against it for pregnant women; on non-alcoholic beer, there is still no agreement on the release of use”, warns Paulo F. Henkinnutritionist and director of the to open (Brazilian Association of Nutrology).
And the gluten free ones?
Traditional beer contains gluten due to malt, which is produced from cereals that contain proteins – barley, wheat, rye. Therefore, it is not recommended for people who have any kind of gluten restriction, such as celiac disease, allergies or intolerances.
Therefore, gluten-free options are made with other grains, such as rice, or by using enzymes that break down proteins.
“The processes of reducing or eliminating gluten, as well as those used to lower the alcohol content, have improved a lot in the last 10 years. The quality of these beers was very close to the original recipes. The flavor and aroma attributes remained almost the same. same.” , says food engineer Flávio Luís Schmidt.
However, the absence of the substance does not make the product healthier. “Furthermore, the caloric value is similar to the traditional one and there is no reduction in alcohol and carbohydrate concentrations,” explains Bernardo.
the nutritionist of Socesp remember that it is important to drink consciously and list among the guidelines: eat when drinking, because on an empty stomach alcohol is absorbed more quickly. Hydration is also essential to avoid hangover and dehydration and, finally, to respect your limits hiring.
“It must be reiterated that, independently of the chosen beverage, the quantities must be checked. The versions considered healthier give the wrong impression of being able to be consumed freely “, concludes Bernardo.
The Brazilians invent the low alcohol isotonic beer
Some of the problems with too much beer are alcohol abuse and dehydration. With this in mind, a researcher from Unesp (Universidade Estadual Paulista) in Araraquara (SP) has developed a low alcohol isotonic pilsen.
According to Deborah Oliveira De Fusco, of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Unesp, who created the version of the beer, the ingredients of the recipe (malt, hops, yeast, water, sodium and potassium) undergo the same production process as the alcoholic varieties, but the difference is that its fermentation is interrupted on the second day after the addition of the yeasts, which control the alcohol content, leaving it around 0.2%.
So that the drink could also be characterized as isotonic, sodium and potassium were added at the end of the maturation process. “Many isotonic products on the market have the addition of various artificial substances, such as dyes and preservatives, for example. People looking for a more natural lifestyle do not want to consume this type of drink,” said Professor Gustavo Henrique de Almeida Teixeira, professor at Unesp’s Faculty of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, in Jaboticabal, and supervisor of the study that led to the new beer.
Sources: Flavio Luís Schmidtfood engineer, professor at FEA-Unicamp (Faculty of Food Engineering at the State University of Campinas); Juliana Katonutritionist and executive director of the nutrition department of Socesp (São Paulo State Cardiology Society); Maia Bernardoclinical and renal nutritionist at HC-UFPE (Hospital das Clínicas, Federal University of Pernambuco), connected to the Ebserh network (Brazilian Society of Hospital Services); Paulo F. Henkinnutrologist and director of Abran (Brazilian Association of Nutrology).
Reference: Taco (Brazilian Food Composition Table).