It’s not what you would consider to be a healthy drink.
But research suggests drinking beer could actually lower your blood pressure, slash your weight and prevent diabetes.
Xanthohumol, found in hops – a key ingredient of beer, could reverse damage done by consuming high-fat diets, scientists claim.
Such diets lead to metabolic syndrome – a cluster of conditions including obesity and high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
But trials on mice fed high-fat foods, mimicking a Western diet, showed that giving them the flavonoid could curb some of the conditions.
A derivative of the compound was ‘especially potent’ in reducing insulin resistance – the driving factor that leads to type 2 diabetes.
And it also reduced sensitivity to leptin – a hormone made in the body which tells the brain when to stop eating and kick-starts the burning of fat.
Xanthohumol, found in hops – a key ingredient of beer, could reverse damage done by consuming high-fat diets, scientists claim
Figures suggest a quarter of adults in the UK suffer from metabolic syndrome, and around 35 per cent of the US are believed to have it.
It puts you at greater risk of developing heart disease – the world’s leading killer – but it can be reversed by making healthy lifestyle changes.
Oregon State University scientists made the conclusion after tested xanthohumol (XN) and two derivatives, DXN and TXN, on obese mice.
The findings back-up previous research that has suggested the compounds could be used in future to treat metabolic syndrome.
But they offer fresh hope for combating metabolic syndrome, because they cause no potential side effects unlike compounds under current tests.
Xanthohumol is known to transform into an estrogenic metabolite in the body, called 8-prenylnaringenin, or 8-PN.
CAN DRINKING BEER REALLY MAKE YOU HAPPY?
Hordenine, abundant in malted barley – a key ingredient in beer, activates dopamine receptors in the brain.
This then triggers a surge of the feel-good chemical to the decision-making area of the brain, German scientists claimed in September.
The findings went someway to explain why some people are never able to stop at just one drink – and end up staying for multiple.
Hordenine triggers a process called hedonic hunger – the drive to consume food or drink for pleasure, as opposed to being hungry or thirsty.
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg researchers examined around 13,000 food molecules to make the finding.
They attempted to find substances that may activate dopamine receptors in the same way as dopamine itself.
But 8-PN is one of the ‘most potent phytoestrogens known in nature’ and researchers have long been criticised for its potent side effects.
Professor Fred Stevens, lead author, said: ‘If someone took XN over longer periods of time, it could lead to estrogenic side effects, potentially.’
Those include endometriosis and breast cancer – of which, many types are sensitive to estrogen, meaning that XN can help tumours grow.
But Professor Stevens said they came across the ‘solution to the problem’ by adding water to XN – which stopped the creation of 8-PN.
And various tests on mice, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed the derivatives worked but posed no harm.
The derivatives were even more effective than the original compound, and TXN was ‘especially potent’ in reducing insulin resistance.
Professor Stevens continued: ‘Now we have compounds that still have the original beneficial effects but not the side effects.
‘There are no adverse estrogenic effects [endometriosis or fueling breast cancer], and the liver toxicity induced by the high-fat diet is mitigated.’
High-fat diets also lead to memory impairments – but the compounds allowed mice to retain their spatial learning, the researchers found.