Iron-Rich Dark Beer is a Strong Contender for Spinach

So we know that a glass of red wine a day is healthy for us, but now scientists have found that dark beer is topping the charts in nutritional value over its counterparts.

GuinnessResearch out of the University of Valladolid, Spain, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture looked at 40 different brands of beer from all five continents to determine which had the highest iron content. It turns out that dark beers like Guinness are much more nutrient-rich than light, paler beers of non-alcoholic beers.

Of the 40 beers studied, dark beers show an average free iron content of 121 ppb (parts per billion) with pale beers coming in second with 92 ppb and non-alcoholic dragging in third place with only 63 ppb.

“Although these quantities are very small, the differences are apparent and could be due to the production processes or raw materials used in manufacturing,” stated Carlos Blanco, professor of Food Technology at UVa and co-author of the study.

Malt and hops are the two main ingredients of any good beer and it is these two mainstays that are responsible for the high iron content. But if most beers contain malt and hops, then why aren’t pale beers rich in iron also? It is due to the difference in the production process. Pale beers are sent through a filtering process where diatomaceous earth is used as a porous material together with micro-algae to lighten the beer and in the process catches the iron in its filter, reducing the level of concentration.

In the case of non-alcoholic beer, the production process uses vacuum evaporation to remove the alcohol and iron ions along with it.

Beers involved in the study include:

  • 17 Spanish beer brands
  • 23 from other countries
  • 28 pale beers
  • 6 dark beers
  • 6 non-alcoholic beers

The beers with the highest iron content were a dark Spanish beer (165 ppb) and a dark Mexican beer (130 ppb). Those that had the lowest levels of iron were from The Netherlands and Ireland (41 ppb and 47 ppb, respectively).

Why would scientists go to all this trouble just to determine the level of iron contained in beer? To determine the safety of commercial beers in relation to their metal content. Metals can affect the brewing process and help to refine the final taste and organoleptic characteristics such as taste, stability and quality.

The method used to determine the concentrations of iron are very complex and involves a differential pulse adsorptive stripping voltammetry technique that is “ultra sensitive, selective, rapid, reliable and cost-effective.”

So the next time you’re out with friends on the patio, consider drinking dark beer over the lighter, pale ales and Pilsners. You’ll feel stronger for it!


Plataforma SINC. “Dark beer has more iron than pale beer or non-alcoholic beer.” ScienceDaily, 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 12 Aug. 2011.


2 thoughts on “Iron-Rich Dark Beer is a Strong Contender for Spinach

  1. I drop a comment whenever I like a post on a site or if I
    have something to add to the conversation. It’s caused by the sincerness
    communicated in the post I read. And after this post Iron-Rich Dark
    Beer is a Strong Contender for Spinach | Super Word Nerd.
    I was moved enough to post a thought 😉 I do have 2 questions for
    you if you don’t mind. Is it only me or does it seem like a few of
    these remarks come across as if they are coming from brain dead individuals?

    😛 And, if you are writing at other social sites, I
    would like to follow you. Could you list all of your social sites like
    your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    • Thank you for your feedback. Some of these studies are interesting and you have to question the motives of a beer study. I mean, who wouldn’t want to participate in that! But more to the point is that a lot of people drink light beer because of the fewer calories and now there’s a reason to venture away from that belief.

      You can find me on Twitter under NatSecret and Google my name for my LinkedIn addy. Cheers! and Thanks again for posting a sincere comment 🙂

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