Coke or Beer, That is the Question

Cans of Coke and bottles of beer

Last week while attempting to tackle the Coke dilemma a follow up question arose from a reader. Therefore, this week I’ll embark upon a journey that takes us into a world that is enjoyed by 60% of the adult population in order to answer his burning question – what is better for you: drinking a Coke or drinking a beer? (Thanks Luke)!

Before reaching the end only to find out there is no final verdict, take note that this week I’ll present both sides of the argument and let YOU be the final judge. I hope this is what you’re doing anyways, but just in case you’re not treat this as a reminder.

Let’s start with beer (or alcohol in general) – low to moderate use of alcohol has been associated with several social and health-related benefits. In elderly individuals alcohol can stimulate appetite and dietary intake while in middle-aged adults it can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. For more information on cardiovascular disease please see my post “The F Word.” Remember this is low to moderate use of alcohol, NOT excessive! If you find yourself wanting that nice smooth beer the Dietary Guidelines suggest up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 for men. Anything more than this and you become more susceptible to the risks of excessive alcohol intake, which includes: heart damage, fluid retention in the lungs, high blood pressure, several cancers (of the oral cavity), liver damage, nutrient deficiencies, and the “beer belly.” The “beer belly” occurs because alcohol promotes the production of fat in the liver. This results in more calories being consumed than burned in a day.

Now on to soft drinks – in the United States, soft drinks are the single largest source of calories. The average soft drink has about 160 calories in 12 oz. Compare this to beer, which has 150 in a regular 12 oz bottle. So here’s the issue, some people drink Coke like it’s water and unfortunately the empty calories won’t fill them up. By empty calories I mean lacking nutrients. Because they’re not full, they don’t compensate the calories they drink by eating less food. So, why would anyone drink a Coke when there’s a beer available that at least has some benefits? Well besides obesity and the health risks associated with it, the cons end there for soft drinks. While on the other hand, alcoholic beverages can lead to major health issues (as mentioned above) and more notably alcohol abuse! Don’t forget – 39% of all motor vehicle fatalities are alcohol related while 0% are soft drink related.

So where do I stand? If you don’t drink alcohol don’t start, for the risks outweigh the possible benefits. If you already drink be honest with yourself and make sure you maintain a moderate level of consumption. As for me and my tasty Coke, the potential downside isn’t as bad as alcohol abuse, but again just don’t forget you’re drinking empty calories and adjust your eating accordingly.

I leave it up to you…Coke or beer? Whatever your choice, keep it in moderation.

Image courtesy of fimoculous