How bad soda ingredients are offsetting beer’s health benefits

Posted by
October 7, 2014

budbeerJust when you might have thought that drinking beer was good for your heart (in moderation, that is), at least one major brewery has found a way of making it a lot less healthy while making it appear to be even more so.

And they’ve managed to do it by using the same devious marketing techniques that are utilized in selling processed foods and beverages designed for kids – along with the same kinds of unwholesome ingredients that are routinely added to such products, including high fructose corn syrup.

But first, a little bit about the benefits of beer in its relatively unadulterated state. While red wine has long been touted as a kind of cardio-health drink, recent research has found that beer can be even better for us. Italian researchers, for example, have found moderate beer drinkers to have a 42 percent lower risk of heart disease than non-drinkers.

That may be due to what Dutch researchers discovered when they did a study of 11 healthy men between the ages of 44 and 59, giving them wine, beer, gin and water with their evening meal for three-week periods. The beer, they determined, produced a 30 percent increase a vitamin B6 levels in their blood as the wine and gin, which was sufficient to prevent any increase in their levels of the amino acid metabolite homocysteine, a known cause of coronary artery disease. By contrast, wine and gin consumption did cause homocysteine levels to rise enough to produce a 10 to 20 percent increase in heart disease risk.

Studies have also found beer to have other health benefits as well – like lowering blood pressure, according to Harvard researchers, and a Finnish finding that a bottle a day resulted in a 40 percent decrease in a man’s risk of developing kidney stones.

In addition to all that, moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a significantly lower likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes in another Dutch study of 38,000 male health professionals.

An adult version of the ‘fruit fraud’ con

So what could be the harm in giving your brewski an added ‘health kick’ by flavoring it with healthy fruit essences like lime, strawberry and mango? Nothing, presumably, if those were the actual things being added, and nothing else.

But in the case of Budweiser’s flavored light beers, such as Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita, Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita, Bud Light Lime Mang-O-Rita, Bud Light Lime Raz-Ber-Rita and Bud Light Lime Apple-Ahhh-Rita, what’s being added is more like the stuff found in distinctly unhealthy soft drinks.

Most notably, all of the above contain high fructose corn syrup, the cheap, unnatural sweetening agent that various studies form leading universities and medical facilities have linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as problems like pancreatic cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The extra ingredients also found in these ‘beer coolers’ include the artificial sweetener sucralose, which has been linked to diabetes in humans as well as other health problems and caramel color, a suspected carcinogen, as well as artificial flavor and artificial colors. Nor is there any indication of anything resembling actual fruit or fruit juice being added. For instance, the Straw-Ber-Rita, which is described as combining “the amazing taste of a strawberry margarita with the refreshment of Bud Light Lime” and has strawberries depicted on its can, makes no mention of either strawberries or lime in its list of ingredients – just things like citric acid, sodium citrate, dextrose syrup and natural and artificial flavors (in addition to the HFCS).

That info, by the way, comes from the website” which calls itself “a guide to responsibly enjoy our quality beers,” which you may only share “with your friends of legal drinking age” (and just to be sure you are, it keeps asking you to confirm your date of birth, as well as the country where you reside and the language you speak). Credit for that goes to Vani Hari, a.k.a. the “Food Babe,” who managed to collect 43,000 signatures on an online petition that convinced the Anheiser-Busch brewing company to publicly reveal the ingredients in its products, even though such disclosure is not required by law.

So if you’re a beer drinker, you can feel good about the newly discovered health benefits of “real” beer consumed in moderation. But, just like with products aimed at kids, be wary of label hype and deceptive graphics that are designed to fool you into thinking that you’re getting the added advantages of healthy fruits, when in fact, all you’re really getting are some distinctly unhealthy additives.