According to new research, beer could actually be beneficial for bone health. Yahoo! News says this finding was discovered after researchers analyzed 100 commercial beers to show that the malted beverage is a significant source of dietary silicon — a key nutrient for bone health.
This isn’t necessarily new information, but little was known about how silicon levels differ between types of beer and the malting processed used. After this recent beer analysis, the researchers found that the silicon content ranged from 6.4 milligrams per liter to 56.5 milligrams per liter, with the average liter of beer containing 30 milligrams. Two beers measure just shy of a full liter, so a person could feasibly get 30 milligrams of the nutrient from a couple of drinks.
Charles Bamforth and his colleague Troy Casey, both from the University of California’s Department of Food Science and Technology, are the brains behind the new analysis.
Their research showed that the malting process didn’t affect barley’s silicon content, yet pale-colored malts still have more silicon than darker ones. The Indian Pale Ale (IPA) finished at the top of the silicon list with 41.2 milligrams per liter while light lagers brought up the rear with an average of 17.2 milligrams per liter. The scientists aren’t sure why the darker malts have a lower silicon level.
Even though the silicon levels in malt varied greatly, it’s the hops that make up most of a beer’s silicon content. More than four times more silicon was found in hops than in malts. Unfortunately, hops make up a smaller amount of the actual beer, compared to grains. The reason that IPAs sit atop the silicon level list may be because they are much “hoppier” than other beers.
"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," Bamforth said. "Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort and much of this survives into beer."
The researchers don’t recommend slamming down beer after beer with the excuse of trying to get your daily silicon, but their study does add to the health benefits of this frosty beverage. In fact, past research has found that moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis. Meanwhile, climate change may one day rob us of our beloved beer, but hopefully not anytime soon.