London: Beer can help strengthen the bones and prevent fractures in old age, a new study has confirmed.
Beer is a significant source of silicon, which is a key ingredient of the diet that helps to improve bone mineral density.
The best beers for silicon are the pale malted ales and lagers. Dark bitters and stouts contain lower levels because they are made with roasted barley, which has lower silicon content. Wheat contains less silicon than barley, so wheat beers are poorer sources of silicon.
Previous studies have suggested that a regular pint or two may help to prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.
In the new study, researchers at the University of California studied 100 commercial beers and found their silicon content ranged from 6.4 milligrams per litre to 56.5 mg/l. Paler beers have more silicon than darker ones because less heat is used in the malting process.
"Beer containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon. It is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element. While most remains during brewing, significant quantities are none the less extracted into wort and survive into beer," the Independent quoted Charles Bamforth, who led the study, as saying.
The study has been published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.