Better source than red wine, green tea or soy products
Researchers have discovered a potent antioxidant in beer that gives new meaning to the traditional toast: "to your health." The finding is reported in the September issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Hops, used in most beers to provide flavoring, contain substances known as prenylated flavonoids. They are a better source of antioxidants than red wine, green tea and soy products, according to Donald Buhler, Ph.D., lead author of the study from Oregon State University. (Antioxidants - substances that protect against the damaging effects of oxygen and nitrogen in the human body - help prevent high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.)
But to maximize the health benefits of hops, you'd have to drink some 450 liters of beer per day, according to Buhler. The most likely outcome for the research, therefore, is a pill that captures their enhanced antioxidant activity, he said.
"I tell people they can't cure their disease by drinking beer - and it might just help," Buhler said. "The bottom line is that you're going to get some, but not preventative, levels of antioxidants by drinking beer."
Different beers have varying levels of antioxidants, ranging from a high of four milligrams per liter for some lager beers to negligible levels in some microbrews.
Previous research indicates that beer has cancer-fighting characteristics and antioxidant properties. The current research identifies the heretofore-unknown reason for these healthful qualities and suggests, for the first time, their source: the prenylated flavonoids in hops - specifically, the compound xanthohumol, Buhler said.
Xanthohumol (zan-tho-HUGH-mol), found exclusively in hops, is six times more effective than antioxidants found in citrus fruits and almost four times more effecti
Contact: Beverly Hassell
American Chemical Society