While cider and beer isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about healthy beverages, but some research does indicate that drinking the right types of cider and beer does minimise the impacts of booze on the body. Now, with cider being the other preferred choice for low-ABV drinkers, it begs the question - is cider healthier than beer?
The average Brit consumes a staggering 3.5 million calories over a lifetime - in alcohol, a study has found.
Research revealed in a typical month, they will enjoy eight pints of beer or cider, nine glasses of wine and three glasses of bubbly, racking up 4,918 calories in the process.
So taking in UK's consumption, and with both beer and cider so popular it's so important to understand why the health aspect of these beverages are so important.
A research conducted by the Mediterranean Neurological Institute has proven that moderate consumption can actually help reduce the risk of heart disease, by 42 per cent no less!
Cider contains something called polyphenols, natural compounds that improve blood pressure and cholesterol. They are kinda like little heroes that’ll help your heart fire on all cylinders.
Certain reports suggest that bitter acids found in beer might improve digestion, this is true for most fermented drinks. However, it doesn’t work for everyone, especially when you consider just how gassy and bloated beer can make you.
The little heroes we spoke about earlier, a.k.a. Polyphenols, help in delivering probiotics, too. That means better digestion and improved gastrointestinal (read: tummy) health. The carbonation of sparkling cider can also help you relieve stomach upsets. Reducing stomach ache by drinking? Me likey!
If you have ever had a beer, you already know that it can be quite relaxing. Research has discovered that beer can help you overcome mental blocks and freshen up. And honestly, it really doesn’t take research to figure that out, all you really need is one sip.
Similar to beer, cider can help you relax, too. Scientifically speaking, it helps release endorphins which lighten you up and improve your mood. But, as is the case with most good things, it’s important to note overdo it. Too much, and you’re looking at some sad emotions when the endorphins crash and the alcohol hits. But that is the case with most alcoholic beverages - so it’s super important to drink responsibly.
Beer’s made from water, wheat or barley, fermenting yeast, and flavouring agents like hops. Pretty standard stuff. Most of the beers available in the market are not gluten-free, and while the controversy around the health aspects of gluten is for a different article, if you suffer from a gluten allergy or celiac disease, it can prove to be a pretty nasty affair. So if you do have any of those conditions or just don’t like the ingredients, how can you get your dose of low-ABV goodness?
Answering the previous question - you come to the cider camp. You see, unlike beer, cider is gluten-free. And not because it’s got some weird modern concoction that tastes like crap in the process of being gluten-free. Oh no. Cider is made from fresh apples, and apples are inherently gluten-free. And since ciders don’t use wheat or barley, they are naturally gluten-free. So drink up!
Vitamins & Minerals
Beer is quite rich in vitamins & minerals including magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, etc. While it does not contain vitamin C, it’s not bad for a leisurely drink, eh?
Cider is also nutrient-rich, containing pectin, B vitamins, biotin, folic acid, and unlike beer, vitamin C. Both beverages seem to be quite evenly matched in the vitamins and minerals department!
With little to no added sugar, beer is the undisputed winner here. As a result, it typically has lesser carbs than cider which makes it slightly “healthier”, even though the amount of calories remains roughly the same.
It all depends on the style of cider, if it is a fully fermented dry cider then it will contain no sugar at all. However, if it is a more commercial cider they like to add extra sugar to appeal to sweeter palettes. So if you're drinking commercial, let's say a Magners or Kopparberg the difference does jack up the number of carbs in ciders.
The winner is a dry full juice cider if you're wanting to ditch the sugar and ditch the calories.
Interestingly, beer does contain antioxidants, most prominently, flavanoids. The “amount” of antioxidants between wine and beer are roughly the same, but the specifics are different because of the different ingredients.
Like beer, cider also contains a healthy dose of antioxidants thanks to the apples and apple skin (which contains tannins). It’s said that half a pint of cider contains as many antioxidants as a glass of red wine. Again, quite evenly matched.
Cider vs Beer: So which is Healthier?
Cider does have an edge over a beer in a few comparisons, especially when you're drinking craft cider that hasn't been mass produced. Purely from a health perspective, ciders do seem to have a lot more going for them, but let’s be honest - you aren’t going to be drinking ciders (or beers) because they’re healthy. You’ll be drinking a beverage of your choice because of the taste and overall experience. So do just that! Pick one which you love and drink in moderation.
P.S. we have a superb infographic on the health benefits of ciders right here. Check it out! (linking to https://craftynectar.com/blogs/cider/health-benefits-of-cider)