Which is better for health, beer or cola? Of course, in the beer vs cola competition, each has its defenders and distractors. (Also see Beer is Better than Milk for Good Health & Weight. So are Wine & Distilled Spirits or Liquor.)
I. Beer vs Cola
II. Glycemic Index and Load
As a matter of fact, many people think beer causes so-called “beer bellies.” Some even consider beer a four letter word. On the other hand, one large activist group opposes cola. It actually avoids the word ‘cola.’ Instead, it favors calling colas ‘sugar drinks’ and ‘liquid candy.’1
I. Beer vs Cola
In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has analyzed the contents of both. It provides the following information.2
|Beverage||Calories||Fat (g.)||Carb (g.)||Sugars (g.)|
|12 oz regular beer||153||0.00||12.64||0.00|
|12 oz regular cola||155||0.92||38.33||36.78|
In addition, the USDA shows that cola contains most, but not all, of the minerals found in beer. But it contains no vitamins at all. On the other hand, beer provides thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, follate, and vitamin B-12
Beer also has a strong advantage over cola nutritionally. That is, it has no fat and no sugar. It also has fewer calories and less carbohydrate. In addition, beer provides more minerals. And tt provides vitamins. On the other hand, cola has none at all.
II. Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
The glycemic index (GI) is important. Specifically, it measures how quickly a food or beverage causes our blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise. It measures food from 0 (water) to 100 (sugar). Thus, those with a higher GI cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
However, the GI can be very misleading. The glycemic load (GL) is much accurate. It’s also more realistic. The GL includes both the quality of carbs (the GI) and the quantity of carbs. Just as in the case of GI, a high Gl is bad.
For example, watermelon has a high GI of 72 but a GL of only 2 per 100 gram serving. That is, it has carbs that quickly raise blood sugar. However, it has very few such carbs. Thus, it has a very low GL.
In light of this, it’s important to focus on glycemic load. So what’s the GL of beer vs cola? Beer has only half the GL (7.5) of cola (15.0).
As a result, people whose diets focus on a low glycemic load do the following.
- Burn more calories.
- Lose weight and keep it off easier.
- Keep good and consistent blood sugar levels.
- Lower their risk of circulation disease.
- Reduce risk of diabetes.
Beer has yet another advantage over cola. It contains alcohol. And drinking alcohol in moderation leads to better health and longevity than abstaining.
When it comes to beer vs cola, there’s really no contest. Beer is dramatically better for health and long life.
III. Resources on Beer vs Cola for Health
Bamford, C. Beer. Health and Nutrition. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Borgian, A. Pop-colas and Dental Corrosion. Montreal : McGill U Lib, 2011. eScholarship id: 104481.
Denke, M. Nutritional and health benefits of beer. Am J Med Sci, 2000, 320(5), 320-6.
Films for the Hum & Sci. Coke on the rocks? NY: Films Media, 2006.
Films Media. Jamie’s Sugar Rush. NY: Films Media, 2015.