Spanish researchers say combining ale or lager with exercise and a healthy Mediterranean diet high in fish, fruit and vegetables and olive oil can provide health benefits, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
Beer contains folic acid, vitamins, iron and calcium and offers the same health benefits already credited to moderate wine drinking, the researchers found.
"Moderate beer consumption is associated with nutritional and health benefits," Dr. Ramon Estruch, the lead researcher, said.
"It does not necessarily mean weight gain since it has no fat and calorie content is low."
He contrasted the culture of drinking small glasses of beer with healthy foods in Spain to binge drinking in Britain.
"Beer drinkers here do not resemble Britons, who drink large quantities, almost without moving from one spot, while eating chips and sausages," he said.
In a study of 1,249 men and women over 57 years old, the researchers found those who regularly drank moderate amounts of beer were less likely to suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure and had a lower body fat content.
Those eating a Mediterranean-style diet who drank up to a pint of beer a day "not only did not put on weight, but in some cases even lost weight," Estruch said.