June 28, 2006
Beer: The King of Beverages?

Charles Bamforth, chairman of the department of food science and technology at UC Davis, is shaking up fellow food scientists at the annual gathering of the Institute of Food Technologists in Orlando, Fla.

Bamforth is asserting that drinking beer is healthier for the human body than drinking wine, increasing sales of which often is attributed to studies touting its healthful benefits.

But according to Bamforth, who, incidentally, also carries the title of Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science, the B vitamins, folic acid, niacin, antioxidants and soluble fiber in beer make it a more wholesome beverage than wine.

People just don't see beer in as flattering a light as wine, says Bamforth. In visiting breweries about the United States he polled 325 men and women about their perceptions of beer, and found their nutritional understanding of the beverage largely in error. Few believe beer contains antioxidants, just 39 percent think it has vitamins and minerals, and many fear that it includes fat, which it doesn't, said Bamforth in a press release concerning his presentation.

The beer industry, he adds, has been slow to promote the healthful properties of beer because it doesn't want to be seen as pushing alcohol on teenagers.

Bamforth elaborates on the benefits of drinking beer in his book "Beer: Health and Nutrition" (Blackwell Publishing Professional, $145, 184 pages). And more can be learned about him at his Web site.

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