By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 04, 2015
© D. Hurst / Alamy

Some teetotalers would like us to believe that drinking beer can cause brain damage, but new research suggests that a compound found in beer may actually be beneficial to the brain, helping ward off ailments such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even dementia.

The news comes from researchers at Lanzhou University in China, who published an article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggesting that xanthohumol—a compound found in hops—was able to encourage the production of neuroprotective molecules in the brains of rats. Those molecules in turn neutralized “reactive oxygen species,” which damage brain cells and lead to all sorts of health problems, according to Medical Daily. The end result is that xanthohumol can keep brain cells alive and well.

As is often the case, however, no scientist was willing to stand up and say it's time to grab a beer bong. According to Healthline, lead researcher Jianguo Fang said you’d only need to drink about one cup of beer to see the benefits of xanthohumol, also indicating that some beers are higher in the compound than others.

“In traditional Chinese medicine, hops have been used to treat a variety of ailments for centuries,” Fang said. “The presence of a high concentration of Xn in beers might be linked to the epidemiological observation of the beneficial effect of regular beer drinking.” That’s science talk for, “Let’s go to happy hour.”