Okay, so beer isn’t exactly a superfood. But it does make you happier (according to science!), and a new study from the journal Scientific Reports shows it could help prevent diabetes. Xanthohumol, a key ingredient used to make beer, reduced the likelihood of insulin resistance in mice who were fed high-fat diets.
Insulin resistance leads to diabetes or other forms of metabolic disorder — these conditions mess with your metabolism and increase your likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease, and in many cases, weight gain.
So in theory, this ingredient in beer could help you keep off extra weight.
Don’t get too excited. Beer in and of itself might not have the same effect — in case you didn’t know, xanthohumol isn’t the only ingredient in beer. And when you drink excess amounts of it, you’re taking in hundreds of extra calories. This is all at the same time as you’re metabolizing alcohol — disrupting your metabolism of both the carbohydrates in the beer and any other food you drunkenly choose to eat.
But don’t worry! It’s not all bad. Drinking beer might also deter you from wanting to eat as much — the researchers found that xanthohumol helped reduce levels of a hormone called leptin.
Leptin signals to your brain that you are full and it’s time to stop eating. You might think that lower leptin levels are not something to be desired, then, since you want to feel fuller more often to eat less. But that’s not necessarily how it works. When your leptin levels are consistently too high, you develop a resistance to the hormone. This resistance means that your brain can’t always tell when you’re full, setting you up for overeating.
So xanthohumol — that magical ingredient in beer — could help prevent leptin resistance, keeping your fullness cues in check.
Beer isn’t the only type of booze with some unexpected health benefits. Wine could help prevent cancer, along with these other incredible health effects.