Beer Good for the Bones

Some beer contains high amounts of silicon, a nutrient that helps strengthen bones, research finds.

By Emily Sohn
Sun Feb 7, 2010 11:24 PM ET

As wine gets showered with publicity for its heart-fortifying, health-boosting effects, beer has maintained a reputation as a dietary wasteland, full of empty calories. But beer, according to growing research, has some powerful nutritional properties, too.

In one of the latest studies, scientists found that some varieties of beer contain large amounts of silicon, a nutrient that helps strengthen bones. Although the study didn't specifically test the health effects of a cold frothy pint, the findings suggest that moderate beer drinking might help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other diseases.

"The wine guys have stolen the moral high ground," said Charles Bamforth, a biochemist and professor of food science at the University of California, Davis. "The reality is there's now growing consensus around the world that the active ingredient in alcoholic beverages that counters atherosclerosis is alcohol. It doesn't matter if it's wine or beer."