Thursday, April 18, 2013

Health Benefits of Hops (Humulus Lupulus)


We all like the taste of beer. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. But you might be surprised that beer has a lot more to offer than just flavor; A glass or two of beer every night might actually be good for you. More specifically, one of the key ingredients of beer provides an abundance of benefits. The hops that are used in your brew for flavor, aroma, and bittering are also high in vitamin B, antioxidants, and flavonoids. These superpowers provide cancer fighting benefits, cardiovascular support, as well as sedative effects, and even more beneficial “side effects”.
The most common health benefit that I have found of humulus lupulus (the Latin fancy-pants name for hops) is its cancer-fighting properties. Female hops contain xanthohumol, These prenylflavonoids may provide cancer preventing molecules. They also inhibit estrogen formation and regulate aromatase activity, which can prevent breast cancer.  (Stevens, Page) (Monteiro, Becker, Azevedo, & Calhau, 2006, p 2938-2943).
Hops also appear to be heart-healthy. According to Denke (2000, p320 to 326) moderate consumption of alcohol may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Wine and beer both have nutritional value, but beer contains more protein, vitamin B, and different antioxidants than wine does. Kondo agrees that beer is healthy for your heart, stating the “light-to-moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages [cause] significant reductions in all-cause and particularly cardiovascular mortality.” So drink up for your heart health, but not too much (for your liver’s health).
Have you ever wondered why a glass or two of beer makes you sleepy? Hops can be blamed for that as well, in addition to the alcohol, of course. Hops increase the activity of aminobutyric, a neurotransmitter, which in turn inhibits the central nervous system. To demonstrate this, quail, which have similar sleep rhythms to humans, were given hop extract capsules. Two groups of quail were given a minimal dosage (1 and 2 mgs), one was given a dose of 11 mg, a control group was given capsules with methylcellulose excipient, and another group was not given anything. The two mg group had less nocturnal activity than the one, eleven, and zero hop capsule groups. So a moderate amount of hops before bed will reduce nighttime activity, however, non-alcoholic beer is recommended (many of you just thought “screw that”) (Franco, Sanchez, Bravo, Rodriguez, Barriga, and Juanez, 2012, p 133-139).
Most researchers support that hops are healthy, and a limited amount of beer will provide the benefits hops provide. Like any alcohol, though, it is best enjoyed in moderation. Hops may be healthy, but too much alcohol can still have a negative effect on your organs. 

Denke, Margo A. "Nutritional and Health Benefits of Beer." The American Journal of the Medical Sciences 320.5 (2000): 320-26. Print.
Stevens, Jan F., and Jonathan E. Page. "Xanthohumol and Related Prenylflavonoids from Hops and Beer: To Your Good Health!" ScienceDirect.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
Monteiro, Rosario, Hans Becker, Isabel Azevedo, and Conceicau Calhau. "CAT.INIST."CAT.INIST. N.p., 22 Mar. 2006. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.
Kondo, Keiji. "Beer and Health: Preventive Effects of Beer Components on Lifestyle-related Diseases." BioFactors 22.1-4 (2004): 303-10. Print.
Franco, L., C. Sanchez, R. Bravo, A. Rodriquez, C. Barriga, and JC Juanez. "The Sedative Effects of Hops (humulus Lupulus), a Component of Beer, on the Activity/rest Rhythm." Acta Physiol Hung 99.2 (2012): 133-39. Print.

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