You often talk about the benefits of drinking wine, but what about beer?

— Cia W., Thousand Oaks

Funny you ask: In a recent medical study, researchers were shocked to learn that men who drank 11-24 pints (176-384 ounces) of beer a week had a 66 percent lower risk for heart attack than the group who drank no beer at all. Similar to wine, the cardiovascular benefits of beer are probably due to polyphenols (antioxidants). And dark beer seems to be especially effective.

Just because there is a hint of health associated with beer doesn’t mean it’s to your benefit to rush out and purchase a case of your favorite flavor. Remember, beer does come with alcohol and calories. And, like most things in life, too much of what appears to be a “good” thing can quickly turn negative.

My recommendation when it comes to beer is to drink no more than one 12-ounce beer an hour, with a maximum of two within a three hour period. If you want weight loss however, choose a five-ounce glass of wine instead.

The challenge with beer is that it’s not usually sipped, but guzzled. And guzzling positions you to consume more than if you were to sip it.

Chicken, beef, milk … antibiotics?

More and more, I hear that livestock are pumped with antibiotics and this may be harmful to our health. How is it that the antibiotics given to livestock may adversely affect me?

— Debbie C., Port Hueneme

It’s true that trace amounts of antibiotics can be found in beef, pork, chicken and milk. When you consume food that has been pumped with antibiotics, there is a major health concern about possible allergic reactions when you are sensitive to antibiotics.

There is also the concern that when you consume second-hand antibiotics, your body is less able to fend off dangerous infections. You see, when a germ gets into your body, you are supposed to produce cells and proteins called antibodies that attack and kill that germ. When this doesn’t happen, your doctor may give you antibiotics to save the day.

Unfortunately, over time germs can figure out ways to survive the attack of these antibiotics. Simply put, the more often your body is plagued with particular antibodies, the less likely that particular antibody will prove effective.

In time, I am hopeful that we as a nation will follow the lead of Europe. They’re not using hormones at all, and they are also cutting back heavily on antibiotics. In Sweden, where I believe they’ve banned antibiotics except for acute cases of disease, they’ve also cleaned up their meat-processing methods, including sanitizing facilities (between each batch of chickens) where chickens are processed. That doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to do, but of course it raises costs.

So, in closing, my recommendation is that, if you’re going to consume beef, pork, chicken or milk — choose organic.