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The role of bioactive phenolic compounds on the impact of beer on health


An issue of the journal Molecules, published in January 2021, includes a number of open access papers that focus on the potentially beneficial effects of the phenolic compounds found in wine and beer.

The role of bioactive phenolic compounds on the impact of beer on health
In the introduction to this paper, the authors state that ‘The characteristic of beer is the high content in phenolic compounds, which are the focus of this review. The consumption of polyphenol-rich foods, like beer, is a well-accepted factor involved in the prevention of oxidative stress-associated diseases’.
Traditionally, beer is obtained from as little as four basic ingredients: barley, hop, yeast and water. The first two ingredients naturally contain phenolics, however during beer production, these molecules undergo chemical modifications and new molecules are formed, influencing both the yield and final characteristics of a beer. Aroma, flavors, taste, astringency, body and fullness are the result of the metabolic activity of microbes on raw materials, and scientific evidences suggesting that they are all influenced by phenol content are summarized in the review.
The review also focusses more deeply on most recent advances on the role of phenolic compounds on affecting human health status and considers how seriously researchers have tackled the effects of alcohol (also present in beer).
The authors state that ‘Beer, like wine, contains the already mentioned substances with indubitable protective capacities, not merely anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, as demonstrated by huge in vitro work on single substances. However, the ambitious objective in studying the effects of beer consumption on human health is to analyse it in toto and, in order to understand the single contribution of phenols and alcohol, parallel experiments with similar doses of an equivalent non-alcoholic beer and of alcohol alone are essential.
The authors searched the research database in order to identify studies that, in the search of the health effects of beer containing phenols, also considered the effects of the presence of alcohol. Less than of 25% (40 out of 161) of entries retrieved were reports on the in vivo (human or animal) or in vitro effects of phenolic compounds within in toto beer. For the 40 studies identified, the authors summarise experimental models, parameters tested and main findings
The authors conclude that studies applying a parallel administration of non-alcoholic beer or/and alcohol alone, in both animal and human intervention studies, support the existence of somehow interfering effects of phenols and ethanol. However, in order to better highlight additive or synergistic effects, further correctly set-up human interventional crossover or observational, or at least animal, studies are required.
Source: Ambra R, Pastore G, Lucchetti S. The Role of Bioactive Phenolic Compounds on the Impact of Beer on Health. Molecules. 2021; 26(2):486.
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