Is Beer Really Brain Food? New Research Says Yes!

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 20, 2015

If asked to name a healthy alcoholic beverage, most people would probably say red wine, which is known for its antioxidants and procyanidins. While these compounds have been proven to keep wine-drinkers in good health, new research has suggested that red vino isn't the only beneficial libation. Scientists recently discovered a compound in hops that has positive effects on brain cells, suggesting that beer may also be a good drink of choice for health-driven individuals.

Beer compound helps protect brain cells
A group of researchers at Lanzhou University investigated what types of compounds could help protect brain cells against oxidative damage. When neuronal cells are compromised, it can often lead to the development of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The compound xanthohumol, which is found in hops and known to have antioxidant and anticancer properties, caught the attention of the scientists. They decided to test the compound's effects on brain cells and published their findings in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The study showed that xanthohumol is effective in protecting neuronal cells against oxidative damage. The researchers also noted that the compound may help slow the progression of brain disorders like Alzheimer's. Move over wine! Beer might soon take the spotlight as a health-touting drink if medical professionals find a way to use this compound to help fend off brain conditions.

Make your own 'beernana' bread
Not a big fan of pale ales and stouts? You can still get the beneficial compound found in beer by incorporating it into your favorite foods. This recipe for "beernana" bread is just one way you can use beer to cook. Whip up a few loaves today to share with your friends at the retirement community.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 small, ripe bananas, mashed
  • 6 oz. light beer
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and grease a bread tin with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, mashed bananas, beer and vanilla. Set the bowl aside, then combine flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir the dry ingredients until they are well-combined. Add the dry mixture into the banana mixture a little at a time. Stir after each addition, until the dry ingredients are used up. Fold in the chocolate chips, if desired. Pour into prepared tin, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.