You would have to drink 3,500 pints of beer per day, but researchers say the compound xanthohumol could be made into a supplement one day.

By Lola Gayle, Editor-at-large

It’s been said by many that beer is filled with a multitude of health benefits and great nutrition. However, it’s actually the flowers of hops plants used to balance beer flavor that may be packed with the biggest health punch.

Specifically, Oregon State University researchers found that xanthohumol — a natural flavonoid found in hops — “significantly improved some of the underlying markers of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals and also reduced weight gain.” According to the researchers, the findings could suggest a possible new approach to issues such as obesity, high cholesterol and elevated glucose, all of which are linked to some of the major health issues and causes of death in the developed world today – especially cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

In order to study the effects of this compound, mice were put on a high-fat diet and given varying levels of xanthohumol. A control group of mice was given none of this supplement, but were also placed on the same high-fat diet.

When the researchers compared the groups, “the highest dosage of xanthohumol given to laboratory rats cut their LDL, or “bad” cholesterol 80 percent; their insulin level 42 percent; and their level of IL-6, a biomarker of inflammation, 78 percent.”

While all mice continued to gain weight, the group given xanthohumol gained 22 percent less weight than the control group. According to the researchers, intake of xanthohumol appeared to increase their oxygen consumption and metabolic rate, with implications for weight control.

“This is the first time we’ve seen one compound with the potential to address so many health problems,” said Cristobal Miranda, a research assistant professor with OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and lead author on this study. “These were very dramatic improvements.”

During the study, it was also found that one of the mechanisms of xanthohumol appears to decrease plasma levels of PCSK9, a protein that plays a role in cholesterol levels. Lowering levels of PCSK9 should increase the clearance of LDL cholesterol from the blood, the researchers said.

Xanthohumol is a flavonoid that has been the subject of considerable research for its potential health benefits, as have other flavonoids found in tea, garlic, chocolate, apples and blueberries.

Before you start sucking on the beer tap, however, there are some limitations in the amount of beer you would have to drink in order to see the benefits.

Found naturally at low levels in hops and beer, the highest level of xanthohumol used in this research was 60 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. The human equivalent dose would be 350 milligrams per day for a 70-kilogram person. That’s 3,500 pints of beer per day!

Clearly that far exceeds the amount anyone could possibly handle through ordinary dietary intake. However, that amount of xanthohumol could readily be obtained in a dietary supplement that could be taken once a day, the researchers said.

“Work is still needed to further demonstrate the safety of high doses of xanthohumol, but dosages 15-30 times higher than we used have already been given to animals with no apparent problems,” said Fred Stevens, a professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy, principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, and corresponding author on the research. “After further study, this might provide an effective treatment for metabolic syndrome at a very low cost.”

Results of this research are published in a special issue of the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

Top Image: In lab tests, xanthohumol (a naturally occurring compound in beer hops) lowered cholesterol, blood sugar and weight gain in mice. (Pixabay)

DISCLAIMER: This is a repost of a previous article I wrote during my time trying to get a friend’s site off the ground. After two years and virtually no headway or money — and no promise of how long the site will remain online — I am forced to take back ownership of my content. Portions of the content have been updated.

Recommended Reading

  • “Fundamentals and health benefits of xanthohumol, a natural product derived from hops and beer” (Nat Prod Commun. 2009 May;4(5):591-610.) — PubMed
  • “Beer and Its Role in Human Health” (In book: Fermented Foods in Health and Disease Prevention, pp.365-384) — ResearchGate
  • “Effect of Beer’s Mineral Content on Humans’ Health” (Conference: The 7th International Conference for Students – Student in Bucovina, At Suceava, Volume: 7) — ResearchGate
  • “Beer in Health and Disease Prevention” (Academic Paper: September 2008) — ResearchGate
  • “Health benefits of fermented foods: microbiota and beyond” (Article in Current Opinion in Biotechnology 44 · April 2017) — ResearchGate
  • ” The surprising health benefits of drinking beer ” (Article: November 2016) — The Telegraph