There is nothing better on a hot summer day than an ice, cold beer. Nothing.

But pop the top on a cold one, and the crackpots will come running from every direction to lecture you on the supposed ills of alcohol in general and beer in particular.

I’m here to tell you they don’t know suds——and while you might think of that icy brew as a guilty pleasure, science shows you’ve got nothing to feel guilty about at all.

In fact... beer is health food!

You read that right. Beer is practically a meal on its own, and a darn healthy one at that——one that can support your health in more ways than any other drink I can think of.

So let me share with you my...


#1) HEART HEALTH: Beer is the ultimate heart tonic!

Yes, it’s true that ALL booze is good for the heart. But beer in particular just might be the best of the lot——because a single brew per day can slash your risk of heart disease by nearly a third, according to research.

Within two hours of that first sip, your arteries relax. That, in turn, reduces stiffness in your pipework and helps ensure that blood flows from your heart like beer from a freshly tapped keg.

So forget an aspirin a day... and down a daily beer instead.

#2) WEIGHT LOSS: Beer belly? There’s no such thing! In fact, beer can actually help shrink your waistline.

A major study out of Spain found that beer drinkers have lower levels of body fat and are less likely to gain weight than people who don’t drink. And if that’s not enough, hopheads are less likely to get diabetes, too.

The key here is to make sure you’re pairing your beer with sausage and cheese and not crackers, chips and pretzels——because it’s the empty carbs in those snacks, and not the calories in beer, that lead to weight gain.

#3) BONE PROTECTION: Got beer? Swap that milk mustache for one made by the foamy head of a good brew——because beer is actually the best bone-builder around.

Beer is rich in dietary silicon, and silicon is what your body needs to produce new bone.

Hoppy beers such as IPAs have 41.2 mg per liter, while pale ales pack 36.5 mg/L, ales have 32.8 mg/L and lagers average 23.7 mg/L.

When you consider that most people get less than 20 mg of silicon per day, you can see how a beer habit can double or even triple your levels of this essential trace mineral.

Even better, the silicon in beer is in a form your body can absorb. As a result, a study out of Tufts University found drinkers have stronger bone mineral density at the hip than nondrinkers, and beer drinkers have the best numbers of all.

#4) KIDNEY HEALTH: Not only is beer mildly diuretic to help keep things flowing, but it also helps to slow the release of calcium from your bones.

That, in turn, stops excess calcium from building up in the kidneys and prevents the formation of stones——which is why a study found every bottle of beer you drink per day will cut your risk of “getting stoned” by 40 percent.

#5) PREVENT ARTHRITIS: Rheumatoid is a painful and debilitating form of arthritis that’s especially difficult to treat and reverse. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid isn’t caused by wear and tear, but by your own immune system turning on your body and attacking your joints.

Beer, however, can help make sure you never get this disease as a recent study finds that a moderate suds habit will slash the risk of rheumatoid in women by nearly a third (and booze in general will cut that risk by about a fifth).

#6) HYDRATION: Yes, you read that right. While you may have heard that alcohol is DEhydrating, beer is 93-95 percent water. It’s more water than anything else. Yes, alcohol will dehydrate you... if you drink undiluted rubbing alcohol (which I do not recommend).

But as a component of beer, the sheer amount of water wins——plus a good brew has essential minerals and salts, which help enhance the absorption of that water.

It’s so effective that a study out of Spain found beer is actually MORE HYDRATING than water itself.

Yes, beer is the original “Vitamin Water.”

A moderate beer habit can also fight infection, boost the immune system, improve your concentration and protect your vision——so those “beer” goggles might be better than your normal glasses.

Beer can even make other foods healthier: Marinating meats in beer will eliminate the cancerous heterocyclic amines that form during grilling.

And alcohol in general——whether it’s from beer, wine, liquor or hooch——can protect your brain, heart and more, which is why people who drink in moderation have a lower risk of nearly every major disease of aging.

Not surprisingly, they live longer, too.