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   Mar 18

Is Guinness REALLY good for you? From claims of antioxidants to the benefits for breastfeeding mothers, we reveal the truth about the beer

Guinness, introduced in 1821, is now one of the world’s most popular beers

For years, the company ran on the slogan that the beer was ‘good for you’

We break the claims down and reveal how healthy Guinness actually is

It’s one of the world’s most popular stouts – and a favorite every St Patrick’s Day.

Guinness, the classic Irish beverage, was touted for years in advertising posters as being ‘good for you’, ‘for strength’ and for ‘when you’re tired’.

But is this creamy beer actually a healthy beverage or just part of clever marketing?

We break down the various health claims and reveal the truth about Guinness.

Guinness Original, released in 1821, is a classic Irish stout and among the world’s most popular beers. It has been at the forefront of controversy in debates about its ‘health benefits’

Based on market research, when people told the company they felt better after drinking the beer,

Guinness began running ad campaigns in 1928 stating: ‘Guinness is good for you’


The classic Guinness is a dry Irish stout. It’s made from water, barley, roast malt extract, hops (a type of flower plant) and brewer’s yeast.

A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark color and characteristic taste.

And while one wouldn’t classify it as necessarily a ‘healthy’ drink, it does have some nutritional bragging rights.

Most beers contain a significant amount of antioxidants, B vitamins, soluble fiber, silicon (a mineral which may help protect against osteoporosis) and prebiotics, which promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.

‘We showed that Guinness contained the most folate of the imported beers we analyzed,’ Dr Charlie Bamforth, a professor of brewing sciences at the University of California, Davis, told CNN.

Folate is a B vitamin needed by our bodies to make DNA and other genetic material as well as needed for the cells to divide.

According to Dr Bamforth’s research, stouts on average contain 12.8 micrograms of folate, or 3.2 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

One more benefit comes from the calorie content. A 12-ounce serving of Guinness contains just 126 calories.

This is compared to the same serving of Heineken with 142 calories, a Budweiser with 145 calories and a Stella Artois with 153 calories.


Despite the folate and prebiotics, Guinness is still alcohol. Consuming too much can impair judgment and wreak havoc on the liver.

Heavy drinking (considered more than 15 drinks a week for men and more than eight for women) and binge drinking (five or more drinks for men, and four or more for women, in about a two-hour period) are associated with many health problems, including pancreatitis, liver disease and high blood pressure.

In the US, nearly 14 million adults – or one in every 13 adults – abuse alcohol or have an alcoholism problem, according to Project Know, which works to educate about addiction.

And while the moderate consumption of alcohol may have some heart benefits – particularly for red wine – drinking alcohol can also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Many decades ago, in Ireland, doctors would often recommend that pregnant and nursing women drink Guinness for its iron content.

Artist John Gilroy, who designed the Guinness posters, once said: ‘The Guinness family did not want an advertising campaign that equated with beer. They thought it would be vulgar. They also wanted to stress the brew’s strength and goodness. Somehow it led to animal’

However, a pint of Guinness contains just 0.3 milligrams of iron – less than three percent an adult needs daily.

And experts today warn of the dangers associated with consuming any alcohol while pregnant, which can lead to severe birth defects.

The beer can also be detrimental to breastfeeding. Alcohol temporarily inhibits the milk ejection reflex and overall milk supply, and can lower milk supply permanently.

Because the fetal brain is still developing after birth, and alcohol passes through breast milk, the baby could be at risk.

According to Domhnall Marnell, the Guinness ambassador, Guinness Original debuted in 1821, and contained a live yeast at the time.

This yeast has a high iron content and was given to anemic individuals or nursing mothers before the effects of alcohol were fully understood.

‘This is something we would not advocate today,’ Marnell told CNN.

‘We would not recommend to anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding to be enjoying our products during this time in their life.’

While the beer wouldn’t necessarily be classified as a ‘healthy drink’, it does contain antioxidants, B vitamins, soluble fiber, and prebiotics, which promote the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut


Even though the stout is relatively low in calories and alcohol content, drinking a pint of Guinness can often leave you feeling bloated.

Dr Bamforth says this is because the brewery has put nitrogen gas into its beer at the packaging stage for more than half a century.

This gives Guinness smaller and more stable bubbles, and delivers a more luscious taste while tempering the burnt flavor of the roasted barley.

‘In Ireland, Guinness had a long history of hiring the best and brightest university graduates regardless of what they were trained in,’ said Professor Karl Siebert, a professor emeritus of the food science department and previous director of the brewing program at Cornell University.

‘And they put them to work on things they needed. One was a special tap for dispensing Guinness, which has 11 different nozzles in it, that helps to form the fine-bubbled foam.’

Decades ago, doctors would recommend that pregnant and nursing women drink Guinness for its iron content. But alcohol has now been shown to have a detrimental effect on babies

Studies in the past have claimed that Guinness can be beneficial to the heart due to antioxidant compounds found in the beer that are similar to those found in certain fruits and vegetables.

Based on market research in the 1920s, Guinness started running an ad campaign stemming from people telling the company that they felt good after having the beer and they believed it was healthy for them.

And thus the slogan was born – ‘Guinness is Good for You’.

Artist John Gilroy created the ads that ran from 1928 to the 1960s with characters representing the brand such as the toucan.

Slogans ran including ‘Guinness for Strength’ and ‘Have a Guinness when you’re Tired’.

Gilroy once said of the posters: ‘The Guinness family did not want an advertising campaign that equated with beer. They thought it would be vulgar.

‘They also wanted to stress the brew’s strength and goodness. Somehow it led to animals.’

Currently, the stout’s parent, Diageo, has put effort into supporting responsible drinking initiatives and educating consumers about the effects of alcohol.

‘We never make any medical claims for our drinks,’ it said in a 2003 statement.

Defined by the USDA’s dietary guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

‘One of the main things we focus on…is that while we would love people to enjoy our beer, we want to make sure they do so as responsibly as possible,’ Marnell said.

‘We would never recommend that anyone drink to excess, and [we want to make people] aware of how alcohol affects the body.’

Source: Daily Mail

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