Atherosclerosis: Treatment may include stout


There is growing evidence supporting the health benefits of drinking beer, but not all brews are made equal. Stout offers substantial amounts of critical nutrients, such as calcium, iron and vitamin B. Past studies have suggested this antioxidant activity may benefit the arteries and bones.

Early research by the American Chemical Society showed that beer, particularly darker ales and stouts, could reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis and cataracts by as much as 50 percent.

During their presentation of the findings, Canadian researchers stressed that darker ales had more health benefits than lighter ones.

Joe Vinson, professor of Chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, explained at the time that “beer has a fair amount of antioxidants compared to other beverages”.

Through his research, he found that giving hamsters the human equivalent of two beers halved the rate of atherosclerosis, describing this as a “significant effect”.

READ MORE: Three drinks linked to an ‘extensive’ build-up of plaque in the veins

In 2009, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also suggested that the constituents in beer may also contribute to bone health.

The researchers noted that “silicon appears to mediate the association of beer, but not that of wine or liquor, with bone mineral density”.

Speaking on the Lorraine show last year, Doctor Hilary Jones endorsed the health benefits of stout, explaining that its iron content may boost oxygen supply through red blood cells.

This is supported by past research suggesting the drink may also have a role in the prevention of blood clots.

Blood clots are a major precursor for cardiac events like stroke and heart attack, but they can prove just as deadly when formed in the legs or lungs.

The research, led by the University of Wisconsin, suggested that the antioxidants in stout were responsible for these effects.

Also found in certain types of fruit and vegetable, the flavonoids can slow and prevent the deposition and oxidation of cholesterol molecules in the arteries.

They can also relax the walls of the arteries, enabling them to accommodate a greater volume of blood.

READ MORE: Arteries in the back are among ‘first’ to fill with plaque – signs

When reporting the findings, the Telegraph stated that the effects were comparable to those of taking aspirin, which is widely used in the prevention of heart attacks.

The researchers said they saw the greater benefits when drinking 24 fluid ounces of Guinness – equivalent to just over a pint – taken at mealtimes.

The results, which were presented at a conference in the US, emerged from trials on dogs who had narrowed arteries similar to those found in people with heart disease.

Though it transpired that Guinness reduced clotting activity in the arteries, lager did not have the same effect.

Though there are several bodies of research providing evidence of the health benefits of drinking stout, the findings ought to be taken with a pinch of salt.

A clear limitation of these studies is that they were performed on animals, warranting further research on humans.

What’s more, there is a fine line between the health benefits and risks of drinking alcohol.

To prevent ill health, the NHS recommends drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three or more days.



Leave a comment