Digestive Health

Are alcohol-free beers healthy?

It may sound oxymoronic to pin ‘alcohol’ and ‘health’ together, but alcohol-free substitutes aren’t just better for you in terms of the morning after – alcohol-free beer has myriad health benefits associated with it too.

That’s right you really can drink your fill without regret. Read below for the top five reasons alcohol-free beer is a healthy alternative to alcohol-packed products.

1. Hydrating

Remember the last hangover you had? Dry mouth, banging head, and extreme eye bags? That’s the alcohol’s diuretic effect doing its dirty work on your body.

As it is a diuretic, alcohol removes fluids from your blood leaving you dehydrated; the more alcohol you consume over a period of time, the longer you remain dehydrated for if you don’t try to remedy with lots of plain water.

Thankfully, alcohol-free beer (AFB) has all the great taste of hangover-inducing beer – just without the hangover! That’s because AFB under 2% alcohol by volume (ABV) will rehydrate your body and some are even isotonic (you’ve probably seen this label on sports drinks), meaning you absorb the liquid quickly.

Takeaway tip: Opt for AFB under 2% ABV for maximum hydration.

2. Lots of vitamins and minerals

Drinking AFB because you’re pregnant? You’re in luck – these alcohol substitutes are packed with essential vitamins and minerals for you and your baby, the most notable being folic acid.

Pregnant women are advised to take folic acid before and during pregnancy to aid normal foetal development. While the amount of folic acid shouldn’t replace any folic acid supplements you are taking, a little AFB could be beneficial (check with your practitioner first).

But it’s not just pregnant folk who can benefit – AFB comes with lots of potassium, iron and zinc. Cheers to that!

Takeaway tip: Check with your medical practitioner if you are pregnant and drinking AFB.

3. Fewer calories

Despite their seemingly calorie-free appearance, alcoholic beverages pack a hefty calorific punch. A standard pint will set you back about 150 calories. As for craft ales, expect around 170 calories per pint. Naturally, they don’t show this on the front of the packaging as it would put many pub-goers off.

Then there’s AFB. With the alcohol stripped out of them, the calorie content is significantly reduced – and companies are keen to promote this. AFB’s average around 70 calories per can for standard types and as low as 20 calories for the very light ones.

Takeaway tip: Don’t be put off by low calorie AFBs thinking they’re ‘low in flavour’ – in my experience, the lowest calorie ones are often the hoppiest. Big Drop Pale Ale are just 61 calories and a tasty pale ale alternative.

4. No nasty surprises

Along with displaying calorie counts, AFB producers show all the ingredients on the packaging. This is a governmental rule which only applies, strangely enough, to alcohol-frees. Anything over 1.2% ABV doesn’t need to show their ingredients.

As a result, AFB companies tend to be more careful with what they put in their drinks, as it is on display for all eyes to see. Traditionally, you will find the same standard four ingredients: water, yeast, malt, and hops.

Takeaway tip: Keep an eye on alcohol content – aim for 0.5% or lower for maximum health benefits.Bavaria Beer is a tasty very low alcohol option.

5. Low in sugar

Unlike alcohol-free wine, which often is packed with sickly sugar (hello, headaches), AFBs contain only trace amounts of the sweet stuff, instead owing itself to the four natural ingredients above to do the majority of the flavouring for it.

The average amount of sugar in an alcohol-free beer is around 1.7g sugar per 100ml. That’s about one third of a teaspoon of sugar.

Takeaway tip: Do not bother with alcohol-free wine. It takes like garbage.

Have you tried alcohol-free beers? Are there any you like more than others? Let us know in the comments, below!

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