An Ingredient in Beer Called Xanthohumol Could Help Fight Obesity


Beer may help fight obesity — but don't go reaching for a glass just yet.

An ingredient in beer "may help scientists create a novel approach to addressing obesity," Fox News reported. Researchers say it may help you lose weight, as well as lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

The magic ingredient: It's called xanthohumol, and it's a flavonoid found in hops. Hops are the flowers of a plant called Humulus Lupulus, and they're used to give beer its bitter flavor and prevent it from spoiling.

In a study published in a special issue of the Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, researchers fed mice a high-fat diet while giving them varying doses of xanthohumol, according to Fox News. The rats who received the highest levels of xanthohumol reduced their LDL cholesterol by 80%, their insulin levels by 42% and a certain biomarker of inflammation by 78%. 

Additionally, mice who received xanthohumol gained 22% less weight than mice consuming a high-fat diet alone.

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Time for a pint? Not quite.

Lead author Cristobal Miranda said a pint of IPA contains a measly 0.0757 mg of xanthohumol, according to Fox News, which means you'd have to drink 3,500 pints a day to reap its benefits. Not even wrestler Andre the Giant, who purportedly once drank 119 beers in six hours, could pull that one off.

Instead, it's possible that xanthohumol could be condensed into a daily supplement, Fox News reported. It could be a "low-cost and effective treatment" for metabolic syndrome: "a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke," according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Almost 34% of Americans are affected by metabolic syndrome, according to the American Heart Association.

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Beer has other health benefits: Beer may not deliver a meaningful dose of xanthohumol, but it has other surprising effects. In a study of 70,000 female nurses, "those who drank moderate amounts of beer had less hypertension than did nurses who drank either wine or spirits," according to the Wall Street Journal

Another widespread study of more than 120,000 adults showed male beer drinkers were "among the group were at a statistically significant lower risk of coronary artery disease than were men who drank red wine, white wine or spirits," the Journal reported. 

We'll see you at happy hour.

Matthias Schrader/AP