Oktoberfest: The Good, The Bad and The Beers

Oktoberfest

Established in 1810 to celebrate prince Ludwig and Princess Therese’s marriage in Bavaria, Oktoberfest has gone from a local wedding party to global excuse to drink your face off. With beer flowing like Niagara Falls at fairgrounds, restaurants and even house parties, it’s hard to not get wrapped up in it one way or another.

Who can deny that a beer, a pretzel, and lederhosen are great fun?

Well, before you drink yourself into oblivion this month, you may want to know the pros and cons of our favorite Autumnal alcoholic beverage.

Beer Pros

  • Beer is fat free
  • Beer is a low sugar beverage (not like that margarita you’ve been eyeballing)
  • Beer has no cholesterol
  • Since beer contains malted barley, it is a source of soluble fiber, aiding in healthy bowel function and slowing digestion and absorption of food. You may be surprised to know that a liter of beer contains an average of 20% of the recommended daily intake of fiber while some can provide up to 60%!
  • Moderate consumption of beer has been shown to reduce stress and the chances of heart disease. I repeat, moderate!
  • Who needs a multivitamin? Beer contains significant amounts of magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, and is chock full of B vitamins.

Yay!!! Ok, don’t get too excited because here comes the cons.

empty beer

Beer Cons

  • One 12-ounce serving of “regular” (150 calories) beer per night adds more than 1,000 calories a week to a diet, working out to an extra 15 pounds per year. One light beer per night adds 10 pounds.
  • There are about 7 calories per gram of alcohol, so the higher the alcohol content, the more caloric it is. Just to give you an idea of how high that is in relation to other foods, there are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates or protein, 9 calories per gram of fat.
  • Even though beer contains no sugar, the alcohol affects your blood sugar levels. Causing them to drop more rapidly can cause low energy and stimulate your appetite, thereby causing you to overeat.
  • Why do we get a beer belly? Remember that beer has all sorts of vitamins? Well, because alcohol interferes with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals, it can lessen the body’s ability to burn stored fat. And since alcohol is detoxified by the liver, metabolizing excess quantities of alcohol, causes the liver to swell, filling with fat.
  • Alcohol destroys Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex. So look for beers that have not filtered out the Vitamin B as those will help in combating the negative effects of alcohol, ie. Hangovers!
  • Most beers contain wheat so for celiacs or those sensitive to wheat, conventional brews can wreak havoc in their bodies from uncomfortable gas to difficulty breathing.
  • Vegans and vegetarians beware! Some beers are filtered through products derived from animals such as isinglass and gelatin. Other beers directly contain animal products such as honey. Be sure to check which beers are veggie friendly before you start sipping! A great resource for finding vegan beer, wine and liquor is Barnivore.

So while beer has some good attributes, it’s important to know the negative aspects.  If you’re going to indulge, be sure to choose your brews wisely. Gluten free beers are less bloating, those with lower alcohol levels are less caloric, those that still have vitamin B will make you feel less crappy and drinking in moderation is always the key!

There are so many great new organic, gluten free and healthier beers on the market. While they may be a bit pricier then a PBR, remember, you get what you pay for!

Have a happy and healthy Oktoberfest! Viel Vergnügen!

Image Credits:
Oktoberfest. Creative Commons photo by signejb
Empty Beers. Creative Commons photo by It’s a Picture

Written by carolyn

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