Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FRAP, antioxidants and beer

No, this has nothing to do with flatulence; it has to do with antioxidants in beer. I never miss an issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The October 13, 2010 edition was a real page turner. What caught my eye was the FRAP assays for different styles of beer. A FRAP assay is a laboratory measurement of the antioxidant power of a liquid. It doesn't mean that much in real life but it is useful for comparisons. Anyways, researchers in Italy quantified the antioxidant power (via FRAP assay) of various styles of beer. They measured bocks, abbey style, pilsners, lagers, ales, wheat and dealcoholized beers. You could probably guess the results: bock beers had the highest FRAP and dealcoholized beers the lowest. Barley is thought to contribute 70% of beer's antioxidants and hops the remaining 30%. Antioxidants intake has been associated with reducing the risk of developing many chronic diseases. Fruits, veggies and berries have lots of antioxidants.
But what was interesting were the numbers. Bock beers had FRAP reading at 4663 umol/L. This is important stay with me... Wine drinkers always boast that their stuff has more antioxidants than beer. This is true; wine has a reading of 12137 umol/L. If you really want a healthy drink, coffee had 22667 umol/L; orange juice had 5147 umol/L. What is the average serving size of wine? About a cup, for a FRAP of approx 3000 umol. The average (CAMRA) serving of beer is one English pint for a FRAP reading of 2650. A serving of wine doesn't have that much more antioxidants than beer.
So when some cork dork jabbers on about how his drink is better for you: just sip quietly and deeply. Just don't tell them, "it ain't healthy for you if you keep spitting it out."

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