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How to Choose the Healthiest Beer: 10 Better-for-You Beers, According to RDNs

Listen, beer is no superfood, but these options may be a little easier on your system.

<p>LeszekCzerwonka / Getty Images</p>

LeszekCzerwonka / Getty Images

While some research has found that beer can actually be a source of anti-inflammatory phenols, this alcoholic beverage isn’t exactly in line to be considered a superfood. But drinking beer in moderation absolutely has a place within a healthy lifestyle, and there are few things more refreshing than sharing a beer with friends at happy hour or on the back patio.

You might be wondering if there’s a hierarchy of healthiest beers out there—are there some brews that are better for you, relative to the rest? Here’s what to look for if you're curious about healthier beer options, plus some great brands to stock up on.

Related: The 10 Healthiest Types of Alcohol to Drink, According to a Registered Dietitian

Alcohol’s Impact on Health

There’s no denying the fun of enjoying a cold one or two after work or over the weekend. But unfortunately, there are some pretty concerning health implications associated with alcohol, especially when it’s consumed excessively and frequently.

“The occasional alcoholic beverage or two may result in a mild headache and some brain fog the following day,” explains Amy Davis, RD, LDN, registered dietitian at FRESH Communications. “However, drinking excessively over time can result in some much more serious health effects, including impaired brain function, increased risk of breast cancer, alcoholic fatty liver disease, disruption of the microbiome, poor mental health, and so much more.”

Drinking too much alcohol of any kind can negatively impact heart and pancreas health, and it generally increases inflammation throughout the body, especially in the gut microbiome. Because of these impacts, health experts recommend greater caution and moderation around alcohol.

While occasional or moderate drinking offers no real health benefits, it’s less likely to lead to some of the worst consequences mentioned here. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking in moderation is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men,” Davis says. (Personally, I recommend an even more moderate approach of one drink for women and two drinks for men over the course of several days or even a week.)

She adds that, “since the alcohol content varies per [type of] drink, it's helpful to know that 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor each count as one drink.

Related: 9 Healthy Things That Happen to Your Body When You Stop Drinking for 30 Days (or More)

Tips for Choosing the Healthiest Beer

If you're curious about how to figure out which type of beer is healthier for you than another, here are two helpful indicators to look for.

Choose Beer With Lower Alcohol Content

Ultimately, the lower the alcohol content, the better. This is to help mitigate the negative impacts associated with alcohol itself, mentioned above. “Beer can have various alcohol contents ranging from 4 to 7% alcohol by volume (ABV), but less than 5% is ideal,” Davis says.

Choose Lighter Beers

Beer can be high in carbohydrates (without the nutritional benefits of other healthy carbs), ranging anywhere from 3 grams (g) to upwards of 25 grams per 12 ounces (oz). High carbohydrate intake can lead to unregulated blood sugars and spiking, especially when consuming more than one beer. Opting for lighter beers can mitigate some of these effects, however. “Light beer tends to have a third less calories than regular beer and also less alcohol, making it a smart choice when drinking in moderation,” Davis says.

“Some beers may also be flavored and include added sugar, pushing up the carb count to over 25 grams per 12 ounce serving,” she continues. “On the other hand, if you're just going to have one and prefer a more robust flavor, darker beers brewed with berries, oranges, or cranberries, may offer some free-radical fighting antioxidants.”



A good rule of thumb is to choose a beer with around 100 calories or less and around 10 grams of carbs or less.



10 of the Healthiest Beers

Let’s take a look at some of the healthiest beers available today, plus their alcohol content and nutrition facts.

Corona Premier

Try Corona Premier that’s even lighter than Corona Light. With its smooth, sweet, almost fruity taste, you’ll still feel plenty satisfied with this lighter lager.

Serving Size: 12 fluid ounces (fl oz)
Type:
Lager
Calories:
90 calories
Carbs:
2.6 g
ABV:
4%

Lagunitas DayTime IPA

If you love the hoppy flavor of an IPA, Lagunitas DayTime IPA is a great healthier beer for you. Fans of this brew describe it as herby and citrusy, but still hops-forward.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type:
India Pale Ale (IPA)
Calories:
98 calories
Carbs:
3 g
ABV:
4%

Michelob Ultra Pure Gold

“With a carb count of 2.5 grams, the popular Michelob Ultra Pure Gold is a good choice,” Davis says. It has even fewer carbohydrates and lower alcohol content than the classic Michelob Ultra, while still offering a citrusy, light taste—plus, it’s USDA certified organic!

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Lager
Calories:
85 calories
Carbs: 2.5 g
ABV: 3.8%

Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA

Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA is a smaller label IPA that offers signature flavor notes of coconut, citrus, and pineapple. It’s made with monk fruit instead of refined cane sugar.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: IPA
Calories:
95 calories
Carbs: 3.6 g
ABV: 4%

Miller64

If you thought Miller Light was a solid choice, Miller64 is that much better. While this beer isn’t for those who crave a more robust flavor, its crisp, refreshing taste will satisfy plenty of others—especially those who prefer a less hoppy brew.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Light Lager
Calories:
64 calories
Carbs: 2.4 g
ABV: 2.8%

Budweiser Select 55

Considering the health-related criteria laid out above, Budweiser Select 55 is one of the best beers on this list.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Lager
Calories:
55 calories
Carbs: 1.9 g
ABV: 2.4%

Blue Moon Light

Blue Moon Light adds pineapple to the brand’s signature orange-tinged, tropical wheat flavor for a healthy-ish beer that’s light and refreshing.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Belgian Ale
Calories:
95 calories
Carbs: 6 g
ABV: 4%

Ghostfish Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale

A juniper-forward beer, Ghostfish Shrouded Summit Belgian White Ale is one of the best gluten-free beers you can find, making it safe to enjoy for those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Belgian Ale
Calories:
125 calories
Carbs: 8 g
ABV: 4.5%

Heineken Light

Heineken Light is not only on the healthier side nutritionally, it’s also non-GMO—which means the wheat, hops, and yeast used to make it haven’t been genetically modified. Though controversial, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are technically considered to be safe. However, they haven’t been around long enough for us to have a full grasp on their long-term health impacts, so many find that avoiding them is a smart move for them.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Lager
Calories:
90 calories
Carbs: 6 g
ABV: 3.3%

Beck’s Non-Alcoholic Beer

No healthier beer round-up would be complete without a non-alcoholic (NA) option, and Beck’s Non-Alcoholic Beer is certainly a crowd favorite. This light NA brew still has the malty, hoppy flavor beer drinkers expect without any of the impacts of booze.

Serving Size: 12 fl oz
Type: Lager
Calories:
68 calories
Carbs: 10 g
ABV: 0.3%

Related: The Lowdown on Low Alcohol Wine, According to a Sommelier

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