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10 Healthier Beers (and How to Choose the Right One)
Feeling guilty about knocking a few back? It might be time to stop the guilt! Moderate beer consumption has been shown to help protect against heart disease and lower the risk of hypertension. (Just remember, we're talking moderate consumption, not all-night err-night affairs.)  . As it turns out, all beers are not created equal, so grabbing whichever tallboy is on special this week doesn’t guarantee health benefits. Here, we've rounded up the beers most likely to bring a health punch to the party.
A-HEAD OF THE GAME — THE NEED-TO-KNOW
Many of beer’s benefits stem from natural antioxidants, called phenols, which are found in beer, wine, and many foods, such as brightly-colored fruits (think apples, oranges, and cranberries). Ales typically have one of the highest phenol concentrations, meaning they also pack more heart-protecting powers than other beer varieties   . While phenols do provide some health benefits, slamming a keg won’t offer much more than a killer hangover. Stick with moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women, and up to two for men) to get the health benefits without feeling down the next day .
(Also Check Out: 26 Healthier Ways to Cook With Beer)
Of course, phenol content isn't the only factor to take into consideration when choosing a cold brew. To help you make healthier choices while out on the town, we’ve created a list of our 10 favorite healthier beers, including some old-time favorites and some interesting blends. (And don’t worry — we’ve got our gluten-free friends covered, too!)
Popping Bottles — The Ultimate Beer List
1. Yuengling Light Lager: Looking for a full-flavor lager that’s still light on calories? Search no further. Yuengling managed to combine the health benefits of a lager with a lower carb count. At only 99 calories, this is a solid selection for a healthier classic brew.
Type: Lager Alcohol Content: 3.8% Calories: 99 Carbs: 9 grams
2. New Planet 3R Raspberry Ale: This newer brew skips the gluten and uses sorghum, corn, and raspberry puree malt to create a not-too-sweet, fruity brew with extra antioxidants (from the berries). Perfect for those looking to enjoy themselves while avoiding gluten. Bonus: New Planet donates a portion of sales from this beer to Colorado-based non-profits using the 3R philosophy — reduce, reuse, recycle.
Type: Ale Alcohol Content: 5% Calories: 160 Carbs: 17 grams
3. Abita Purple Haze: Don’t enjoy the bitter taste of beer but still want to reap the heart-health benefits? Have no fear! Abita infused this brew with real raspberries to deliver a fruity aroma and a sweet taste. The berries pack an antioxidant punch and give the beer its namesake purplish hue.
Type: Lager Alcohol Content: 4.2% Calories: 145 Carbs: 11 grams
4. Left Hand Good Juju: Complete with a hint of fresh ginger (one of our favorite superfoods!), this unique ale combines unique herbs and spices to bring out a full flavor. This lighter-bodied brew is perfect for those that want full flavor without sacrificing their waistline.
Type: Ale Alcohol Content: 4.5% Calories: 131 Carbs: 12.1 grams
5. Guinness Draught: This dark Irish blend — famous for quenching thirsts on St. Patty’s day — is a classic beverage with a creamy, decadent flavor and a sneakily healthy twist! Packed with phenols, this super-dark staple brings the taste and feel of a stout with fewer carbohydrates and calories.
Type: Stout Alcohol Content: 4% Calories: 126 Carbs: 10 grams
6. Sam Adam’s Light Lager: Creating a light beer that still stands up to the Sam Adam’s taste was no easy task. Brewers stuck to the basics and invented a lighter calorie beer that didn’t sacrifice flavor, making this beer perfect for those looking to stay health-conscious without skimping on taste.
Type: Lager Alcohol Content: 4% Calories: 119 Carbs: 9.7 grams
7. New Belgium Blue Paddle: This brew packs the hops without expanding the waistline, since it's relatively light in calories. Complete with a fruity, herbal aroma and a slightly bitter finish, this beer delivers a healthy wallop!
Type: Pilsner (Lager) Alcohol Content: 4.8% Calories: 145 Carbs: 14 grams
8. Stone/Ishii/Baird Japanese Green Tea IPA: Perhaps one of the most exotic beers on the list, this collaboration effort from several breweries packs a unique taste and higher alcohol content. Don’t fall prey to sticker shock — while this brew packs the highest calorie total on the list, the antioxidants from the green tea pack a huge health benefit. Plus, it’s higher in alcohol, so just half of one 12-ounce bottle will surely suffice. Just don’t go overboard and kick back the whole six-pack. Still not convinced? Feel good about indulging, as all proceeds from this beer go to Japanese tsunami relief programs.
Type: India Pale Ale Alcohol Content: 9.2% Calories: 276 Carbs: 19 grams
9. Butte Creek Organic India Pale Ale: Looking for an organic pale ale that is made free of potentially hazardous pesticides and chemical fertilizers but still tastes great? Look no further! Butte Creek has managed just that with this Indian pale ale.
Type: India Pale Ale Alcohol Content: 6.4% Calories: 201 (22 oz.) Carbs: 1.9 grams
10. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: Combining a heap of hops with slight hints of orange blossom is no small task. Sierra Nevada pulls it off with this award-winning brew.
Type: Pale Ale Alcohol Content: 5.6% Calories: 175 Carbs: 14.1 grams
*Note: All nutrition facts are based on a 12-ounce serving unless otherwise noted.
Have a favorite healthier brew not listed here? Share with us in the comments below! Not a beer drinker? What other healthy cocktail (or mocktail!) do you sip on for both health benefits and tasty enjoyment?
- Alcohol consumption and the risk of hypertension in women and men. Sesso HD, Cook NR, Buring JE, et al. Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston MA. Hypertension, 2008 Apr;51(4):1080-7.⤴
- May alcohol-induced increase of HDL be considered as atheroprotective? Králová Lesná I, Suchánek P, Stávek P, et al. Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine - IKEM, Centre for Cardiovascular Research, Prague, Czech Republic. Physiological Research, 2010;59(3):407-13.⤴
- Characterization of phenolics content and antioxidant activity of different beer types. Piazzon, A., Forte, M., Nardini, M. National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, Rome, Italy. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010 Oct 13;58(19):10677-83.⤴
- Characterization of Brazilian lager and brown ale beers based on color, phenolic compounds, and antioxidant activity using chemometrics. Granato, D., Branco, G.F., Faria Jde, A., et al. Department of Food and Experimental Nutrition, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Journal of the Science of Food and Agricultural, 2011 Feb;91(3):563-71.⤴
- Phenol antioxidant quantity and quality in foods: beers and the effect of two types of beer on an animal model of atherosclerosis. Vinson JA, Mandarano M, Hirst M, et al. Department of Chemistry, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 2003 Aug 27;51(18):5528-33.⤴
- Nutritional and health benefits of beer. Denke MA. Center for Human Nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Veterans Health Administration North Texas Health Care System, USA. The American Journal of Medical Sciences, 2000 Nov;320(5):320-6.⤴
Comments Leave a comment
Stone and Sierra FTW.
IMO, the healthiest beer is the one that will satisfy you most completely.
I'm a little suspect that Butte Creek Organic India Pale Ale is only 1.9 grams of Carbs. Usually IPAs, as evidenced by others in this list, are around and above 15 grams....
Can any of Lagunitas' brews land on here?
The beer is liquid bread, drank too easy to gain weight, adequate, or good for the body.
As someone who has worked in beer for most of my adult life, these recommendations are great (except for guiness hehe)!!!
I think I'm just hung up on this "ales are better for you" situation. Anything that's not a lager, is pretty much an ale. Literally, this can be anything from a ABV16% porter/stout to a 2% wit beer. All of those are various types of ales. It just has to do with the type of ingredients used and how it's cooked.
So I'm just not convinced that ales are actually better for you. I think you have to be aware of the sugar, the ABV, quality of ingredients, etc. Super cool idea for an article though!!!
Beware of some beers which have formaldehyde in them. German beers are safest because of that nation's strict beer purity laws.