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Cheers! Beer ’good for bones’

world Updated: Feb 08, 2010 13:09 IST

Downing a bottle of chilled beer is not only refreshing on a summer afternoon, but it is also good for your health -- in fact, it strengthens bones and can prevent fractures in old age, says a new study.

An international team has carried out the study and found that beer is rich in silicon -- a mineral found in barley, a key ingredient in the beverage -- which survives the brewing process as orthosilicic acid.

And, according to the study, it’s silicon which helps strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis, a disease that is characterised by low bone mass as well as the deterioration of bone tissue.

Lead researcher Prof Charles Bamforth of California University was quoted by the British media as saying, “Beer containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon.

“It’s the husk of barley that’s rich in this element. While most remains during brewing, significant quantities are none the less extracted into wort and survive into beer.”

For their study, the researchers looked at commercial beer production, starting with raw material samples, and found very little change in the silicon content of barley during the malting process. Most of it is contained in the husk, which is not greatly affected during malting.

The hop samples analysed showed surprisingly high levels of silicon, with as much as four times more mineral than found in malt, according to the findings published in the ‘Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture´.

However, the researchers are not recommending gulping beer to meet your silicon intake needs. “Based on the findings moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis,” Prof Bamforth said.