NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Beer drinkers now have a good excuse to order another round -- the brew may help keep bones strong, a study has found.
Researchers from the Department of Food Science & Technology at the University of California, have found beer is a rich source of silicon and may help prevent osteoporosis, as dietary silicon is a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density.
These were the findings after researchers tested 100 commercial beers for silicon content and categorized the data according to beer style and source.
Previous research has suggested beer contained silicon but little was known about how silicon levels varied with the different types of beer and malting processes.
"We have examined a wide range of beer styles for their silicon content and have also studied the impact of raw materials and the brewing process on the quantities of silicon that enter wort and beer," researcher Charles Bamforth said in a statement.
The study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found the beers' silicon content ranged from 6.4 milligrams per liter to 56.5 mg per liter. The average person's silicon intake each day is between 20 and 50 mgs.
The researchers found there was little change in the silicon content of barley during the malting process as most of the silicon in barley is in the husk, which is not affected greatly during malting.
They found pale ales showed the highest silicon content while non-alcoholic beers, light lagers and wheat beers had the least silicon.
"Beers containing high levels of malted barley and hops are richest in silicon," said Bamforth.
"Wheat contains less silicon than barley because it is the husk of the barley that is rich in this element."
But Bamforth told reporters that the results shouldn't be taken too serious. The study examined the beers but it did not look at bone mineral density or analyze patients' data.
"I would first consider flavor and whether you like it or not," he told science and technology magazine Discover. "Choose the beer you enjoy, for goodness sake."
(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy)