Guinness Is Good For You

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Pint O'Guinness Keeps Doc Away
The Hartford Courant
Last update: 12 May 2004
A man walks into a bar, orders a 12-ounce bottle of Corona Extra. Another man walks in, orders a 12-ounce Guinness draft.
The two men turn to each other, raise their glasses and say, "Here's to your health."
Question: Whose dietary and health interests are better served by the 12-ounce beer?
If the guidelines are less alcohol, fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates and, to top it off, protection against heart attacks, blindness and maybe even impotence, then it's the Guinness drinker, hands down.
No joke.
Guinness, in fact, is lower in alcohol, calories and carbohydrates than Samuel Adams, Budweiser, Heineken and almost every other major-brand beer not classified as light or low-carb. It has fewer calories and carbohydrates than low-fat milk and orange juice, too.
Could this be the same Irish stout that looks like a still-life root-beer float and tastes about as filling as a quarter-pounder with cheese?
Yes, the same Guinness that beer expert Michael Jackson (the British king of hops) calls the world's classic dry stout. It's a favorite of Bono (obviously), Madonna (with a good cigar) and Matt Damon (no, Guinness does not make teeth unnaturally white).
This tastes-great, more-filling formula defies nutritional expectations because Guinness is so low in alcohol, a source of empty calories. Guinness is 4.2 percent alcohol by volume, the same as Coors Light. Budweiser and Heineken check in at 5 percent.
"That surprised me," says Dr. Joseph Brennan, a Yale-New Haven Hospital cardiologist of Irish heritage and a confirmed Guinness drinker.
"I could never understand why one or two wouldn't leave me light- headed."
Brennan, like many cardiologists, recommends a drink a day for his cardiac patients. Red wine, in particular, has been shown to help prevent heart attacks. Now maybe it's beer's turn. A University of Wisconsin study last fall found that moderate consumption of Guinness worked like aspirin to prevent clots that increase the risk of heart attacks.
In the study, Guinness proved twice as effective as Heineken at preventing blood clots. Guinness is loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants that give the dark color to many fruits and vegetables.
These antioxidants are better than vitamins C and E, the study found, at keeping bad LDL cholesterol from clogging arteries. Blocked arteries also contributes to erectile dysfunction, as does overindulgence in alcohol.
Guinness has a higher concentration than lighter beers of vitamin B, which lowers levels of homocysteine, linked to clogged arteries. And researchers have found that antioxidants from the moderate use of stout might reduce the incidence of cataracts by as much as 50 percent.
It's milk's line, but beer gives you strong bones, too.
"The reason, we think, is that beer is a major contributor to the diet of silicon," says Katherine Tucker, an associate professor of nutritional epidemiology at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Tucker recently participated in a study that showed beer, either dark or light, protects bone-mineral density because of its high levels of silicon, which allows the deposit of calcium and other minerals into bone tissue.
In Ireland, where the slogan "Guinness Is Good for You" was born, the stout's medicinal uses are the stuff of legend. Diageo, the U.S. distributor of Guinness, makes no claims about its medical benefits, says spokeswoman Beth Davies from the company's offices in Stamford, Conn.
But a visitor to Ireland might hear accounts (most no longer, if ever, true) of Guinness administered to nursing mothers, blood donors, stomach and intestinal post-operative patients and mothers recovering from childbirth.
"Pregnant women and racehorses, one a day," says Michael Foley of Wethersfield, Conn., standing over a pint of Guinness in the subterranean bar at the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury, Conn.
Foley, who left Castlemaine, County Kerry, 43 years ago but retains a Guinness-thick brogue, returns a cocked-head glance that says, loosely translated from Gaelic, "Duh."
"It's made from barley, you know," he says.
True. Roasted and malted barley (it gives Guinness its deep ruby color), hops, yeast and water from the Wicklow Mountains, south of Dublin. Guinness gets its rich, creamy head from a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide when dispensed from a tap.
Our man who ordered that 12-ounce Guinness obviously wasn't in an Irish pub, which serves the stout in a 20-ounce imperial-pint glass after a deliberate, often agonizing, two-part pour that allows the beer to settle. But if he knows what's good for him, maybe he'll stick around for one more.
"Most health research," says Tucker, "suggests that benefits, including protection against heart disease, are noted with up to one drink per day for women and up to two a day for men. Above this amount, the negative effects of alcohol seem to outweigh the positive effects."
Reply to
Unsweetened tea? I don't get that flavor at all.
It's too bad the author of this article holds up the ridiculous "Guinness is filling" notion. Is this because it is black? Is that supposed to make it thick somehow because you cannot see through it. Is Coca-Cola filling, you cannot see through it either.
Reply to
Randal Chapman

I find it filling also, but not because it's black. That makes no sense! (to me) I love love love Guinness! That roasting just slays me every time. All my friends hate it though...Oh well, more for me.
Reply to
Many many "superstitions" around beer make no sense. Believe me I've had more than one redneck tell me Guinness is "lahk moter oyal" because of it's black color alone. Guinness is quite lite bodied and lite in alcohol. If it were a stronger, higher gravity beer then I would buy that it is truly filling, but it just isn't.
If you love Guinness you should explore the world of stouts beyond. So many stouts are SO much better than Guinness you would be amazed! Try Oasis Zoser, Rogue Shakespear, Sheaf, Lion, Sierra Nevada, Anderson Valley and many others!
Reply to
Randal Chapman

Maybe she has a secret stash of the extra stout from Ireland. That's one I miss, for sure.
Best regards, Bill
PS: Zonker Stout, Bell's Expedition, Great Divide Imperial, Victory Storm King, Cooper's Extra, Sam Smith's Imperial.. more stouts that kick arse. ;^)
Reply to
Bill Becker
Tell me about it. (Check out the Old School Cheap Beer thread, were a guy thinks that Pabst "can't" change it's recipe because it says "Original" on the label...).
Guinness certainly has more than it's share of superstitions.
Believe me I've
Well, that concept is not limited to "rednecks"- seems MOST people think that, even Guinness drinkers (who are just as guilty about Guinness myths) and even the Irish...
Guinness is quite lite bodied and
Yes, but it DOES have a (to use food industry jargon) good "mouthfeel" (ie, feels as if you mouth is "coated") which many people equate- wrongly- with a beer being heavily bodied.
If it were a stronger, higher gravity beer then I
Filling? Ain't that the white creme inside a Twinkie? Seems to me the term filling was invited by Miller Lite ad execs and doesn't really mean much. I mean, I find a liter bottle of Poland Spring to be "filling". Carbonation in beer adds as much to it being "filling" as anything else and since MANY people drink directly out of a can or bottle (rather than pouring it into a glass and releasing excess C02), seems they don't mind a filling beer.
Reply to
If you like Sheaf, you might also try Old Australian Stout; if you like sweet beers, try Dragon Stout too. And as long as Bill is bringing up Imperials, try Rogue's Imperial Stout too.
Reply to
Russ Perry Jr
I think that is due to it's lower carbonation levels more than actual body. I could be wrong but I don't think Guinness has a whole lot of unfermentable dextrins hanging around, and most recipes I've seen for it don't call for additions of the kinds of malts that are going to leave that sort of thing (or mashing temps).
True, the people quaffing bottle after bottle of fizzy beer get fooled into thinking that their beers are lighter because of the carbonation even while gassing up their insides, so good point about Miller in fact being more "filling"!
Reply to
Randal Chapman
I have to second O'Hara's, its my favourite tipple at the minute. As for superstitions - some are true, when I was about 7 years old the doctor prescribed me a bottle of Guinness a day, for iron deficiency. This was presumably because up until recently bottled Guinness here in Ireland was naturally carbonated...
Reply to
Colin Graham

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