By Paul Scicluna
A schooner of the cold stuff may be good for bone health due to its high levels of silicon, a US study has shown. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found the malty beverage is a significant source of dietary silicon, a key ingredient for bone health which may help prevent osteoporosis, reports LiveScience.
The type of silicon found in beer, called orthosilicic acid, also has a 50 percent bioavailability — meaning more is available to be taken up by the body. While previous studies have shown that beer was high in silicon, little was known about whether the levels differed between different varieties of beers.
To find out, the researchers ran chemical analyses on beer’s raw ingredients and measured the silicon content of 100 beers bought from a supermarket. They found that silicon content of the beers ranged from 6.4mg/litre to 56.5mg/litre, with an average of 30mg/litre. The average silicon levels of beer types was:
• Indian Pale Ale: 41.2mg/litre
• Ales: 32.8mg/litre
• Pale ale: 36.5mg/litre
• Sorghum: 27.3mg/litre
• Lagers: 23.7mg/litre
• Wheat: 18.9mg/litre
• Light lagers: 17.2mg/litre
• Non-alcoholic: 16.3mg/litre
Their research showed the malting process didn’t affect barley’s silicon content, which is mostly in the grain’s husk but pale-coloured malts have more silicon than the darker products. They also found that hops had as much as four times more silicon than malt. “Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon,” lead researcher Professor Charles Bamforth told LiveScience.
“Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element.
While most of the silicon remains in the husk during brewing, significant quantities of silicon nonetheless are extracted into wort (liquid that is produced when grains are mashed to produce beer) and much of this survives into beer,” he said.
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