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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

BEER AND SHOYU: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIGHT AND REGULAR?

Maybe surprisingly, the three top selling beers in the U.S. are:

  1. Bud Light
  2. Coors Light
  3. Budweiser

Now, this is not a trick question, but guess which beer is #1 in the world.?  China's Snow beer sells 16.5 billion pints/year, double Bud Light, which is #2.

Regular and light beers generally cost about the same, but you get about a third less alcohol and calories with the latter, though not always:




(12oz) (Alc %) Calories Carb
(g)
Budweiser 4.9 143 10.6
Bud Light 4.2 110 6.6
Miller High Life 4.6 144 13.1
Miller Lite 4.2 96 3.2
Coors Original 5.0 148 11.3
Coors Light 4.2 105 5.0
Corona Extra 4.6 148 n/a
Corona Light n/a 105 5.0


Many drink beer for the alcoholic content, so there is a sense that you're not getting your money's worth with light beer.  Is light beer just regular beer with added water?  Well, suits have been filed, for purportedly that reason, but beer companies have prevailed, saying they need an extra step or two to produce light beer.  For example, it takes eight steps to brew most beers, nine for NON-alcoholic beer.

I bought a one quart + 8 ounces, or 40 ounce, bottle of Anheuser-Busch Hurricane beer today at Foodland for $2.49.  And the alcohol content was 8.1%!  I've never seen a beer made by this company so high in alcohol.  That 26 ounce bottle of Edna Valley Chardonnay (13.9% alcohol) I believe was around $10 from CVS.  So which is of better value?  The beer, of course, and, okay, this comes from India, but here are 10 reasons why beer is not bad for you.  Beer:
  1. drinkers life longer
  2. is all-natural
  3. has no fat or cholesterol
  4. in fact, can "improve" your cholesterol
  5. helps you chill
  6. has plenty of B vitamins
  7. is safer than water
  8. prevents heart attacks
  9. fights cancer
  10. really does not result in a bad hangover
Okay, anyway, lite and regular beers cost about the same.  Not so for soy sauce (shoyu).  Here is a graphic that might confuse you.  From Amazon.com:

In an ad they look the same size, but the can on the left of regular Kikkoman Soy Sauce is one gallon for $17.18, while the Kikkoman Lite to the right is a 64-ounce bottle at $15.39.  Thus, like beer, regular and lite shoyu are about the same price, right?  NO!  A gallon is 128 ounces, so the LITE SOY SAUCE IS ABOUT TWICE THE COST OF THE REGULAR.  The one with less salt cost much more.  Why?  They say low salt soy sauce takes a couple of extra steps to make, and this might be so, but I think the driving price determinator is that Kikkoman is taking advantage of people who are on low-salt diets and will pay more for the sake of their health.

On the Marukai eStore list, the regular Kikkoman 5 ounce soy sauce costs $3.28, while the low-salt soy sauce sells for $3.68.  So, Long's in Honolulu sells Aloha 5 ounce bottles of both (above) for the same price, but much cheaper.  While Kikkoman is "expensive" and Aloha is not, such is the nature of any commodity.    Finally, in the Marukai Honolulu store, Yamasa shoyu showed this doubled difference in 34 ounces containers earlier this year:


Sure, we need to cut back on sodium, and soy sauce is up to 18% salt (one tablespoon has 1,000 milligrams of sodium--where 2,000 is the recommended max/day).  However, a National University of Singapore study showed that dark soy sauce contains TEN TIMES the antioxidants of red wine, and can help prevent cardiovascular diseases.  Considering that you drink wine by the glassfuls and take shoyu in droplets, not sure this is truly a big plus.  Yet,  a few non-profit foundations have actually said that soy sauce is one our healthier foods, and you absolutely need to click here to find out why that salt coming from this product might not be as bad for you as you thought.  Further, gluten, apparently, is not a problem, especially from Japan.  At least Kikkoman indicates so.

Conversely, if the shoyu (which, of course is produced from soybeans) is made from hydrolyzed soy protein (versus being naturally fermented), a chemical carcinogen called 3-MCPD can appear.  So pick the safe natural shoyu.  I don't own any Kikkoman stock, but I have tended to mostly consume this brand, and, best as I can tell, all their products are naturally fermented.  On the other hand, here is a peculiar response from Kikkoman on whether they ever use genetically-modified soybeans:  Kikkoman takes great care to ensure that only high quality ingredients are used it its natural production process. That’s why all Kikkoman products manufactured in The Netherlands are produced exclusively with non-GMO soybeans.  Does this mean if produced in Japan they do use GMO soybeans?  Well, another article indicates that ALL Japanese soy sauce comes from NON-GMO soybeans.  Incidentally, there are 1600 shoyu manufacturers in Japan, a number that is precipitously falling.


So my final recommendations:
  • Drink beer whenever you want, but keep your consumption low.  Heck, might as well drink regular beer because there is more ethanol for the same price.
  • A 160 pound male (that's me) with normal liver function reaches 0.8 blood alcohol concentration after FIVE 12 ounce beers with 5 % alcohol in one hour because your liver will metabolize one of them in that period.  In general, females should only consume TWO or THREE to reach 0.8 in an hour.  However, ANY alcohol in your system can affect your driving ability, so it's best not to drive after you drink anything alcoholic.
  • Forget low-salt soy sauce, which has maybe 40% lower sodium than regular, but could cost twice as much as regular.  For half the price, buy the regular variety and drizzle on half the amount.  You thus have that shoyu taste, but save up to FOUR times the cost, while consuming less sodium.
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