All those guys with huge beer bellies who are downing bottleafter bottle of brew only seem unhealthy?they?re actuallyprotecting themselves against heart attacks.

Doctors think that folic acid, which is found in beer, helpsprevent heart disease. At the Institute of Food Research inthe U.K., men are being asked to drink 2 pints of beer aday. Dr. Paul Finglas says people suffering from heartdisease generally have high levels of a chemical calledhomocysteine, which has been linked to blocked arteries andheart disease. A high intake of folic acid is associatedwith low homocysteine levels, so scientists want toinvestigate it as a way of reducing heart attacks in men.

The 80 men who drink the beer will be tested to see if theirfolic acid levels increase and homocysteine levels decrease.This which would be great, except the beer given in thesetests in non-alcoholic. Finglas says, “It would be difficultto do a study where we are giving people alcoholic beerbecause people have to get on with their lives. Also alcoholimpairs folate absorption in the body.”

Folic acid is recommended for pregnant women because itprotects against birth defects such as Down’s syndrome.Besides beer, it?s also in leafy green vegetables and otherhealthy foods. Scientists are carrying out research usingfolic acid-rich foods popular in their countries, such asgazpacho soup in Spain, which contains tomatoes and peppers,and rye bread in Finland.

But it?s nice to know it?s in beer, because we didn?trealize those guys in the beer commercials were reallydrinking it for their health.

What else is in the foods we eat? If you want to know aboutthe strange genetic manipulations behind many of the foodson our grocery shelves, read ?Eating in the Dark? byKathleenHart,click here.

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