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A beer specialist has told food scientists a swift ale is a better choice than fermented grape juice for health-conscious booze hounds.

At the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting on Tuesday, Professor Charles Bamforth said: "Beer, if you looked at it holistically, is healthier than wine. But it is not perceived that way."

He cited the soluble fibre, vitamin B12, folic acid, niacin and antioxidants present in The Drink That Built An Empire. He said the hard liquor component of beer has the same magic artery-unblocking prowess as in wine, too.

Bamforth conducted a study of 325 visitors to breweries in the States. When asked which is the healthiest alcoholic beverage, naïve tipplers put red and white wine at the top of the list. Then came something called light beer (apparently popular in the New World), then normal lager, and finally dark beer.

A paltry 39 per cent of those polled were aware of the miraculous nutritional fortitude of the glorious loopy juice.

Even more chillingly, Bamforth says the custodians of our health are among those peddling misinformation about beer. He said: "I have a friend who is a doctor who says, 'don't drink beer because it has fat'. There's no fat in it at all."

Bamforth is Anheuser-Busch endowed Professor of Brewing Science at the University of California. Funnily enough, Anheuser-Busch is responsible for rubbish rice-based brew Budweiser. ®

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