By Nancy Gay
Planning on tipping back a pint of green beer this St. Patrick’s Day? You may wish you had the “luck of the Irish” on your side before grabbing an emerald ale to say cheers to the patron saint of Ireland. Some doctors say ingesting a lot of green dye in a short period of time may cause gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea. Plus, Shelley Tworoger, PhD, a researcher at Moffitt Cancer Center, says alcohol is associated with increased risk of some cancers, such as postmenopausal breast cancer and esophageal cancer.
Green beer is made with green food coloring, which often comes from petroleum, a product used to make gasoline. According to a study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health; all of the nine currently U.S.-approved dyes raise health concerns including cancer and hypersensitivity, but the FDA says further tests are needed.
Thinking of having a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage along with a green lager? You may want to pass on the salt-cured meat and double up on the cabbage. Dr. Tworoger says processed meats, such as corned beef, increase the risk of colon cancer and can cause weight gain over time. She recommends getting into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit by eating green fruits and veggies instead.
Green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and cabbage are rich in vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting. They also contain the antioxidant vitamins C and E and the phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, which can lower the risk of chronic diseases. Plus, these vegetables have phytochemicals, which are compounds produced by plants that are believed to protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer.
There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Experts say chugging a green beer one day a year probably won’t cause cancer and Dr. Tworoger says drinking alcohol in moderation may have cardiovascular benefits. However, toasting sláinte, or to good health, with green veggies is the recommended way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.