Sugar is everywhere these days. From bread to soda, from cookies to candy bars, even ice cream. And now, it seems like every beverage has some sort of sweetener added to it.
Sugar is a natural component of food, but too much of it can cause health problems.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily intake to no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day.
But how much sugar is really in beer? Is it safe to drink?
The answer depends on the type of beer you are drinking, and this article looks at it in a little closer detail to tell you just how much sugar you can expect to find in beer.
Is There Sugar In Beer?
Yes! Of course, there is. There is rarely anything you can find without sugar. But not all beers contain the same amount of sugar.
Some have less, while others have more. So let’s take a look at what types of beer contain sugar.
Beer contains two main categories of sugars: Maltose and Lactose. These both come from barley malt. They are also known as dextrins.
Maltose is made up of glucose molecules bonded together by an oxygen atom. It is found naturally in many foods, including milk, fruit juice, honey, and molasses.
Lactose is made up of galactose molecules bonded together by an ether bond. This is the form that occurs naturally in milk and dairy products.
In addition to these sugars, beer may contain other forms of carbohydrates such as fructose, sucrose, or trehalose.
So when we say “beer contains sugar”, we mean that it contains one or more of these three different kinds of carbohydrates.
Sugar in beer is created when the grains are processed and fermented by yeast. This is called beer gravity.
This refers to the density of the beer extracted from the mashing process when brewing.
When this, known as the wort, has a lot of sugar, it’s known as a high gravity wort. Once the yeast is added, sugar content often decreases but the alcohol content increases.
After the fermentation process is done, beer is typically made up of 80% fermentable sugars and 20% of oligosaccharides (a type of carbohydrate).
How Much Sugar Is In Beer?
As we have mentioned, the sugar content in beer will depend on the brand and type of beer.
Labeling the sugar amount on the bottle is not required by law, so working out the amount can be tricky. However, the below figures are from Healthline and provide a good guide.
- Bud Light: 4.6 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Budweiser: 10.6 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Coors Banquet: 11.7 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Coors Light: 5 g (carbs) and 1 g (sugar)
- Coors Non-alcoholic: 12.2 g (carbs) and 8 g (sugar)
- Heineken: 11.4 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Miller High Life: 12.2 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Miller Lite: 3.2 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Regular beer: 12.8 g (carbs) and 0 g (sugar)
- Light beer: 5.9 g (carbs) and 0.3 g (sugar)
- Non-alcoholic beer: 28.5 g (carbs) and 28.5 g (sugar)
As you can see from above, non-alcoholic beer often has a much higher sugar content, but light beer sometimes has more sugar than normal beer.
The list also points out that the more carbs in a beer, the higher the sugar content is. However, on a general note, sugar content in beer is quite low.
What Does Sugar Do To Your Body?
When your body digests carbohydrates, they break down into simple sugars called monosaccharides.
These include glucose, which is the most common sugar in our bodies. Glucose enters cells through the bloodstream and gives us energy.
When we eat carbohydrates, they pass through the small intestine where they are broken down into glucose. Then they enter the large intestine where bacteria ferment them further.
This fermentation process produces gas and creates organic acids. One of these acids is lactic acid. Lactic acid is produced when lactose passes through the gut.
This is why people who do not digest lactose well often feel bloated after eating dairy products.
Sugars Are Not Good For You
While sugars are necessary for life, they aren’t good for you if consumed in excess.
Too much sugar causes weight gain, tooth decay, and diabetes. It also contributes to heart disease and cancer.
According to the World Health Organization, consuming more than 10% of your total calories from added sugars is considered excessive.
This means that if you eat 2,000 calories a day, then you could be eating about 200 calories worth of added sugars.
This is equivalent to having 1/3 cup of sugar added to your diet each day.
If you do decide to drink beer, keep in mind that the amount of sugar you consume will depend on the type of beer.
So check the label for an accurate reading of how much sugar is in your beverage.
But bear in mind, beer is not something that is going to make your sugar content go through the roof and is perfectly ok to drink in moderation.
Health Benefits Of Beer
Although sugar can be found in beer, it’s perfectly ok to drink in moderation, like anything with sugar in it. In fact, there are some health benefits to the beverage and these include:
Beer Contains Antioxidants
Beer contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that damage cell membranes and DNA.
They cause aging and contribute to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Antioxidants protect against free radical damage by donating their electrons to other molecules. This reduces the number of free radicals in your body.
Beer Helps Fight Cancer
Studies have shown that drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
However, this effect depends on the type of alcohol you drink and the length of time you drink it.
Excessive alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer, while moderate consumption of beer decreases the risk.
The American Institute for Cancer Research states that “moderate” alcohol intake (one or two drinks per day) lowers the risk of colon cancer.
However, heavy alcohol use raises the risk of liver cirrhosis, which is associated with increased risks of developing both stomach and esophageal cancers.
Beer May Help Prevent Heart Disease
In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, studies show that moderate beer consumption may lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity.
We hope this article has helped you learn more about beer and its sugar content.
Although sugar content is relatively low, if you’re still looking for a healthier alternative, try switching to craft beers.
These beverages tend to contain less sugar than mass-produced brands. Also, consider brewing your beer at home using ingredients you already have on hand.
But overall, you should not be too concerned about the small sugar content in beer and as long as it is consumed in moderation, you’re going to be just fine.
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