Still brewed in its native Ireland, Guinness’ famed strapline suggests it does more than simply taste good, once prescribed as an iron tonic this dark, creamy stout is often viewed as one of the healthier alcoholic options – but can any alcoholic drink be good for us? Read on to discover more about one of the most popular beers in the world.


Discover our full range of health benefit guides, including which alcoholic drinks are best for you and how many calories are in your favourite drink. Check out our Guinness recipes including our Beef and Guinness stew with carrots and our Steamed chocolate, stout and prune pudding.

What is Guinness?

Guinness is a stout beer with a rich history - the yeast that’s used to brew it can be traced back to the original strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, first employed in 1903. Made from five main ingredients - roasted barley, malted barley, hops, yeast and water - Guinness is famed for its rich dark, ruby red colour and distinctive creamy head.

There are 10 products in the Guinness portfolio, with original and draught being the most popular. Unlike most beers which are carbonated, Guinness is pressurised in the keg with a nitrogen and carbon dioxide mix. It is the nitrogen that creates the famous creamy head, and is why Guinness pours differently and takes longer to settle in the glass.

A woman pouring a Guinness in a bar

What are the health benefits of Guinness?

The health benefits of Guinness include:

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  • Contains protective plant compounds
  • May be gut healthy
  • May be heart healthy
  • May support hormonal balance
  • Is lower in calories
  • Contributes some vitamins and minerals
  • May be vegan friendly

Nutritional profile of Guinness (draught) per 100ml

  • 35kcal / 148KJ
  • 3.0g Carbs
  • 0.002g Protein
  • 0.0g Fat
  • Alcohol by Volume (ABV) 4.2%
Cans and bottles of Guinness

What are the top health benefits of Guinness?

1. Contains protective plant compounds

Made from barley, hops and yeast, Guinness is a source of naturally occurring plant compounds called polyphenols, the majority (about 70-80%) being derived from barley. These have a protective antioxidant effect, which means they protect the cells of the body from a damaging process called oxidation.

2. May be gut healthy

Polyphenols, including some called melanoidins, act as a prebiotic fuel source for the beneficial bacteria that reside in our gut and help to keep our intestines healthy. In fact, polyphenols derived from beer may be especially useful because only 5-10% are absorbed in the small intestine, with the remainder making their way to the colon where gut microbes ferment them and transform them into their beneficial and active form. This suggests beers like Guinness may be gut-friendly and may even support immunity.

3. May be heart healthy

Heavy and consistent alcohol consumption, as well as binge drinking, is well regarded to be detrimental to both the heart and your general health but the question many of us ponder is are there any benefits to moderate levels of drinking?

Studies on the effects of polyphenols suggest they have numerous benefits, these include supporting circulation, reducing blood pressure and lowering inflammation. For this reason, some studies suggest that moderate beer consumption may be beneficial for the heart. It's important to note, moderate equates to one beer per day for women and 1-2 for men, and excludes binge drinking.

Although many of the studies in this area have been the less reliable observational type (the results of which may be influenced by other lifestyle factors), there have been some published random controlled trials (RCTs). Nevertheless, further high-quality research and more human RCTs are needed before any conclusion on the effects of moderate beer drinking on the heart may be drawn.

4. May support hormonal balance

Barley isn’t the only ingredient to provide benefits: valuable plant oestrogens from hops may be useful for post-menopausal women because they may help balance oestrogen levels.

5. Is lower in calories

The ABV (alcohol by volume) of Guinness varies depending on the product, but at 4.2% the original and draught versions have a lower alcohol content than many of the other beers on tap at your local. This means, despite its rich creaminess and caramel-like flavour, Guinness contains fewer calories (200kcal per pint) than other premium beers (5% ABV), which may provide 220 or more calories.

6. Contributes some vitamins and minerals

One glass of beer provides more B vitamins and protein than wine; this includes the B vitamin folate, which is especially rich in Guinness. Beer also contains the minerals silicon for healthy hair, nails and bones, as well as the energising mineral, iron.

7. May be vegan friendly

Developments in the filtration process used to produce Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, mean these options are vegan-friendly.

So, is Guinness good for you?

Although moderate consumption may bring benefits for some, there is a fine line between the amount of alcohol that may be beneficial to health and that which may cause harm. The problem for many of us is that we find it hard to stick to ‘moderate’ amounts and the consumption of any alcohol needs to be evaluated within the context of other aspects of our lives. For example, no levels of alcohol are considered safe for pregnant women, and those who are breast-feeding should exercise caution.

It is also worth remembering that high levels of alcohol may disrupt sleep, cloud judgement and potentially interact with prescribed medication, furthermore, alcohol even at low levels increases the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. For those who enjoy the taste and flavour of Guinness and appreciate some of its perceived benefits, Guinness draught 0.0%, enjoyed in moderation, might be a healthier option. Brewed in the same way, the alcohol is removed using a cold filtration method to preserve taste and flavour.

Speak to your GP if you’re worried about your alcohol intake or that of someone you care about. Your GP will be able to suggest ways to help manage your drinking and refer you for counselling or support services.

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Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a BANT Registered Nutritionist® with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including Good Food.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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