Is alcohol-free beer healthy?
Alcohol-Free is not the be-all and end when it comes to health. Of course, it isn’t. After all, fruit isn’t either.
It all about balance. But there is a feeling I get from your comments on my blog that says that alcohol-free means low calories and diet.
This is not diet soda!
Zero Alcohol drinks can be a way to keep drinking beer with all the “so-called benefits” but without the alcohol. From antioxidants to vitamin B, there are lots of great things about beer.
And hopefully the taste too!
The thing is, beer is full of calories, and we know too much alcohol can play havoc with our liver and other internal organs. So what if we could get the best of both worlds?
Here are my top 5 reasons why alcohol-free beer is healthy.
5 – Antioxidant and Vitamins
The good news is that beer per se is good in many ways, especially if you look at antioxidants and vitamins. This is true for alcohol-free beer or alcohol beer, for that matter.
Beer is beer! Ok maybe not
Of course, if you take out the alcohol and reduce the calories, could it be a win-win? But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.
It is claimed, and there is evidence to back this up, that beer per se includes :
Please wait for it…
- Ingredients that fight cancer
- It can help with the composition of our bones, so keeping them strong.
- It can help with certain heart and arteries issues
- It helps with our digestion ( I won’t go into detail, but it keeps us regular!)
- Maybe anti-ageing
There is a caution with these claims, which is drinking too much of it and losing all the benefits. It’s that word we love to hate called “balance”.
Putting it bluntly, the more with drink, the more fat we get and the more our liver really not hates us. It can also have the opposite effect on our heart and bring on other horrible health issues.
So we are left with a dilemma!
If we take the vitamin B and antioxidants, which are good for us, then consider the hops and rich sources of flavonoids, then it could be a winner without the alcohol.
The good news is that because creating alcohol-free beer to everyday beer is similar, and we can look forward to keeping some of the benefits.
But this is a big “but” because even alcohol-free drinks can have calories.
In terms of the hops, you may have heard of something called “Xanthohumol” which is found in beer and is known not to like cancerous cells. It’s a fighter!
It’s also good for vitamin E, which we know helps our skin and anti-ageing.
So why do people with a hangover look so crap? Alcohol takes many benefits away and dehydrates us, which is another reason to go alcohol-free.
Overuse of alcohol can lead to liver disease, as I know from experience and mental health issues, although mixing with the locals in a pub is probably good for your mental health. Alas, it’s never easy!
4 – Calories are generally less
As part of my job as an alcohol-free blogger, I am obsessed with the calories in alcohol-free drinks versus the ordinary stuff. I have actually just written about here after being bombarded by comments from you on the blog.
Mainly in the camp of alcohol-free means calories free. Nope, it does not, so just stop it!
Have a doughnut!
Sadly there are still calories in alcohol-free beer but not as many as the full-on alcohol branded drinks. Such brands like Budweiser Zero, which I review here, have made a huge thing about it, and I can see why.
If we could make drinks, especially beer with 0.0% alcohol, make them less calorie dense, then you’re probably into a winner.
Most of the beers I review have less weight inducing moments than their counterparts. Everything from Bavaria 0.0 to Heineken Zero is certainly not diet drinks, but they go some way to reduce the weight on our hips, all other things considered.
However, if you are shoving late nights kebab and fatty food down your throat nightly, then any drink, alcohol or not, is more harmful than good as you are still taking in the calories.
So alcohol-free brands can make a difference to our health but not just liver health but for what it can do for your hips.
3 – It’s better labelled than it was
When it comes to alcohol-free, the labels are everything; trust me, I am obsessed.
I don’t know if you have heard the phrase what gets measured gets done? It’s actually true, I think, overall. It gives us a benchmark of what we are trying to go for and then works out if we are on track or off track!
Right now is a good time to switch to alcohol-free beer because you get to know what you are drinking. The manufacturers know this as it is much a health market as a drinks market.
Do you know what the abv of your alcoholic drink is? Years ago, people may have been not so quick to answer. Now, of course, it is illegal to all drink alcohol or otherwise non-branded without the proper statistic on the label.
For me, it’s life-changing, so I have to drink with the level of alcohol that clearly says 0.0%.
Don’t get me wrong, anything below 0.5 % abv is a small amount of alcohol, but if you know you would prefer not to drink alcohol but still enjoy the taste of wine or beer, this is a lifesaver mean that in the literal sense.
In a bar, you can now challenge when you get a 0.0% beer sold to you, which is a 0.5% or above. For some people, this can make a difference instead of the low alcohol beer range, which is 0.5% or above.
In the UK, the labelling is evident so:
- Alcohol-free beer = no more than 0.05% ABV
- De-alcoholised beer = no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low-alcohol beer = no more than 1.2% ABV
- Alcoholic beer = contains more than 1.2% ABV
It’s not the same in every country, so do check.
That makes sense, right? It’s a lot clearer than it used to be, so if you are concerned to keep it under the 0.5% range but if you are like me and you can’t touch alcohol, then you really want 0.0%, and there are plenty to choose from into today’s market.
Although still hard to get when you are out and about.
The good thing it is built into the brand names so:
- Heineken Zero
- Sam Miguel 0.0
- Bavaria 0.0
- Cobra Zero
- Budweiser Zero
- Stella Zero
This branding is very often on the front of the bottle, so you can easily check. Some brands don’t have this, like Peroni Liberia, which is still a great alcohol-free beer, but the label checking takes a bit more work.
Many alcohol-free beers are also labelled gluten-free like many craft beers, so in effect, you are looking at a more discerning audience.
Or is that just me:)
2- The taste has improved
Gone are the days when alcohol-free beer did not taste very nice. In fact, I have seen the early ones spat out in public or just left on the table half drunk because the thought was better than the taste.
One of my pure drinking friends on social media left a picture of beer alcohol-free Leffe with the caption:
“Actually, for a non-alcoholic beer, it’s actually quite good”.
Coming from him, that is a compliment! He really likes his pure craft beer!
Brewery techniques have changed, and let’s be fair on this one. The biggest brands are investing good money in promoting them. Why?
Because there is profit in them hills!
The growth of alcohol-free beverages is at roughly around 23% every year! Coming from a previous advertising and media world, I certainly know that marketers won’t spend money on bad products.
There will be social media feedback, tasting groups and surveys all feeding into the big brand machine.
Now before we knock it, some of these brewers lead the way, and it does not mean craft beers won’t last in the alcohol-free market.
It just means that when we want a choice of an alcohol zero beer, we don’t get that stare in the bar or, as I have often got and still do with this response:
“But what’s the point?”
Despite looking like it’s saturated, this market is only just beginning, and as the market increases, new entrants to the market will come into play.
I know pubs and bars still have a lot of catching up to do.
Imagine the potential that is under their those if you did not need to look for it in a bar and it was offered alongside
“Buy a large glass of wine and get the bottle free”.
It could be branded as a healthier option, maybe?
Alcohol-free drinkers should get a discount, yet I have seen the prices slowly climb, and in one case, a bottle of alcohol-free beer was more expensive. That can’t be right.
Or, as someone said to me, “you better taste the beer first.”
1 – Its actually alcohol-free
I know this is obvious, but if you are giving up drink or can’t drink, this is a major deal. It’s a niche audience but see the reaction I get when I say I live an alcohol-free lifestyle.
People think you are a bit odd.
If I said I drink energy drinks, no one would blink an eye or, for that matter, if I took vitamin supplements.
But if you are looking for alcohol-free, it’s now well-branded and cuts across many groups, including
- Women who are pregnant
- People who want a change of lifestyle
- People who want to watch their weight
- People who need to cut back on their drinking for health reasons
- People who need to stop drinking altogether because it could kill them! ( This is me!)
- People who don’t drink for religious beliefs
In fact, when you look at this market, I find it difficult to understand why the brewers did not push the marketing sooner! It’s a niche, but it’s massive.
The thing is, alcohol-free cuts boundaries as it’s not just about the calories in beer. It’s about what we eat when we have had a few too many! It’s all connected when you think about it.
It’s health-related. There is no doubt about that!
It is also social because it takes away the need to drink alcohol in social circles! I have certainly found it mentally for my health, and it makes a massive difference, one that many therapists in the alcohol world would find hard to understand!
Talk to me!
I would love to know what you think? Would you consider alcohol free beer a healthy option, or is it just not for you. Is alcohol-free beer healthy as far as you are concerned? If so, what alcohol-free beer is your favourite and for what reason?
I always respond to your comments, and it’s great to hear from you.
For more info on your drinking, visit drinkaware