Gluten-free, organic, low-carb beer: which is better for your health? – 05/13/2022

The discussion about whether there is healthy beer is similar to extensive bar chats: everyone has their opinion and arguments are often not enough to convince those who disagree or not. The truth is that the drink —which is among the favorites of Brazilians— is increasingly democratic because of the new versions, which have gained more space on supermarket shelves and a loyal audience.

You can find craft beers, alcohol free (zero or low content), light, low carb, gluten free and even organic — made with naturally grown ingredients without the addition of chemicals. According to experts consulted, the best options (with alcohol) are precisely the most natural, with the fewest ingredients, without the addition of chemical products, that is, artisanal and organic.

But the ideal would be a low-calorie, alcohol-free and natural one. This is because the studies are controversial. As much as some show that, in moderate doses, consumption protects the heart, others reveal that just a daily dose is already capable of shrinking the brain.

But, taking 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, beer (more natural) has a number of nutrients. In its composition, in addition to water, which corresponds to 90%, antioxidant substances are found, derived from hops and malt, which help in the maintenance of organic functions. “It has a protein and caloric intake, in addition to mineral salts and some vitamins of the B complex, mainly”, lists Flávio Luís Schimdt, food engineer, professor at FEA-Unicamp (Faculty of Food Engineering, State University of Campinas).

juliana 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 the manufacture, which give the bitter and flavoring flavor, also contain phenolic compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. “In addition, brewer’s yeast is rich in micronutrients, and considered a probiotic because it contains the fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae.”

Among the vitamins are 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 processes 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, may have a protective effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality when compared to abstainers,” says Juliana kato.

However, there are only health benefits if consumption is moderate and there is no intolerance to ingredients and fermentation products.

The tip for people looking for a healthier lifestyle is to always consult the nutritional table and the list of ingredients.

Image: monica di loxley/unsplash

the harm

One cannot forget that beer is caloric: each 350 ml can contains 150 kcal. “The light must have up to 35 kcal per 100 ml to receive this classification. However, a 350 ml can would have 122.5 kcal, that is, the reduction compared to the traditional one is not as significant. calories and carbohydrates, there is still alcohol in the composition”, says Mayara Bernardo, clinical and renal nutritionist at HC-UFPE (Hospital das Clínicas, Federal University of Pernambuco), linked to the Ebserh network (Brazilian Hospital Services Company).

The tip for people looking for a healthier lifestyle is to always consult the nutritional table and the list of ingredients to find out what you are consuming.

THE Cisa (Health and Alcohol Information Center) recommends a maximum intake of two drinks per day for men and one dose for women, considering a dose equal to 14 g of alcohol, which corresponds to 350 ml (one can) of beer. The difference occurs because women have lower levels of enzymes responsible for metabolization of alcohol and take longer to eliminate it.

It is possible to find versions with a low amount of alcohol on the market, with an ethyl content of less than or equal to 0.5%. The so-called zero alcohol have a maximum content of 0.05% and those with low alcohol content, between 0.5 and 2%.

According to the nutritionist at HC-UFPE, because it does not contain alcohol in its composition, its caloric value is also lower, since 1 g of alcohol is equivalent to 7 kcal. “The ‘alcohol free’ can have up to 50% fewer calories than the traditional one and ends up also being chosen 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 a consensus in the scientific community about not recommending it to pregnant women; about non-alcoholic beer, there is still no agreement on the release of use”, warns Paulo F. henkinnutritionist and director of the Open it (Brazilian Association of Nutrology).

And the gluten free ones?

Traditional beer contains gluten because of malt, which is produced from cereals that contain the protein — barley, wheat, rye. Therefore, it is not recommended for people who have some type of gluten restriction, such as celiac disease, allergy or intolerance.

Thus, gluten-free options are made from other cereals, such as rice, or using enzymes that break down protein.

“The gluten reduction or elimination processes, 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 have remained almost the same.” , says food engineer Flávio Luís Schmidt.

However, the absence of the substance does not make the product healthier. “In addition, 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 recalls that it is important to drink consciously and lists among the guidelines: be fed when drinking, because on an empty stomach, alcohol is absorbed more quickly. Hydration is also crucial to avoid hangovers and dehydration and, finally, to respect your limits in ingestion.

“It is necessary to reinforce that, regardless of the chosen beverage, the quantities need to be controlled. The versions considered healthier give the wrong impression that they can be consumed freely”, concludes Bernardo.

Brazilians invent isotonic, low-alcohol beer

Some of the problems with too much beer are alcohol abuse and dehydration. With that in mind, a researcher from Unesp (Universidade Estadual Paulista) in Araraquara (SP) developed a low-alcohol, isotonic pilsen.

According to Deborah Oliveira De Fusco, from Unesp’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who created the beer version, the recipe’s ingredients (malt, hops, yeast, water, sodium and potassium) go through the same manufacturing 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 controls 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 that are on the market have the addition of various artificial substances, such as dyes and preservatives, for example. People who seek a more natural lifestyle do not want to consume this type of drink”, said Professor Gustavo Henrique de Almeida Teixeira , professor at the Faculty of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences at Unesp, in Jaboticabal, and supervisor of the study that resulted in the new beer.

Sources: Flávio 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 at Socesp (São Paulo State Cardiology Society); Mayara Bernardoclinical and renal nutritionist at HC-UFPE (Hospital das Clínicas at the Federal University of Pernambuco), linked to the Ebserh network (Brazilian Hospital Services Company); Paulo F. Henkinnutrologist and director of Abran (Brazilian Association of Nutrology).

Reference: Taco (Brazilian Food Composition Table).

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