Long drinks lists can be overwhelming, but if your liver got to choose, it would probably go with something brimming with hops. Yep, just like the majority of craft beer drinkers, it would probably grab an IPA.
Researchers from the German Friedrich Schiller University Jena recently found preliminary evidence that hops damage the liver less than liquor and beer without hops.
“Our data suggest that hops content in beer is at least in part responsible for the less damaging effects of beer on the liver,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.
The researchers used three groups of female mice for the study: mice that drank hoppy beer, mice that drank beer without hops, and mice that drank straight ethanol. A full 12 hours after consumption, the researchers went into their little mice livers to see the impact of each type. The mice that stuck to the hoppy stuff had less fat buildup in their livers than the mice that were forced to down zero-hopped beer and the hard stuff.
The study was only done on mice, so it doesn’t directly correlate to human livers. There isn’t a human trial scheduled, and there probably never will be, considering it would be extremely unethical to force humans to consume a single type of alcohol and then dig into their livers to see the effect. There is, however, precedent of alcohol studies on mice helping researchers understand how alcohol affects humans, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes.
Keep in mind that hoppy beer isn’t safe for your liver. It’s alcohol, therefore it has the health risks of alcohol. It could be safer for your body than straight liquor though — and safer without a sketchy proprietary mix that hasn’t been fully tested. Just one more reason to thank all those hop farmers pumping out new varieties of hops.
Should you go out and buy a keg to celebrate? Probably not, because there are plenty of caveats here. But maybe you should add a few more hoppy IPAs to your drinking lineup. Your liver may or may not thank you, but your tastebuds surely will.