A new study has revealed that drinking one pint of beer per day helps to preserve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, which significantly reduces the risk of having a stroke or heart attack later in life.
HDL cholesterol is the good kind of cholesterol that keeps the cardiovascular system healthy and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the bad kind which increases the risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world, resulting in up to 17.3 million deaths every single day. By 2030, experts expect this figure to rise to 23.6 million deaths per day.
A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2000 already showed that moderate amounts of alcohol could reduce the risk of heart disease, but this new study solidified the proof.
Details of the study
80 000 Chinese adults participated in the study over a 6-year period where researchers at the Pennsylvania State University focused on the effect of different types of alcohol on HDL cholesterol levels.
The intake of beer, wine, and spirits was monitored throughout the study and categorized as light, moderate, and heavy drinking and quarterly blood samples were taken.
Light drinking equated to less than 1 unit per day for men and 0.4 units per day for women, moderate drinking to 2 units per day for men and 1 unit for women, and heavy drinking meant more than 3 units per day for men and 2 units per day for women.
Interestingly, researchers found that there were not enough wine drinkers to report on its effect on HDL cholesterol levels.
What were the results?
Researchers found that HDL cholesterol levels showed a steady decline in all participants over the 6-year period, but those who drank one to two pints of beer per day had a far slower decline than the other participants.
Those who drank light to moderate amounts of alcohol more frequently had higher levels of HDL cholesterol than those who did not drink at all, which proved that controlled alcohol consumption is better for overall health than being a teetotaler.
Dr. Shue Huang, the lead author of the study, said: “Almost without exception if you look at fatal and non-fatal heart disease, people who drink in moderation have substantially lower rates than people who abstain. All the more reason to raise a glass- but probably not more than that.”
Excessive drinking was, of course, confirmed to be damaging to the cardiovascular system and was strongly advised against.
Which alcohol was best?
Beer proved to be the most effective for improving cardiovascular health by slowing the decline of HDL cholesterol levels, while spirits could only offer similar benefits if consumption was very restricted.
Beer contains vitamins, minerals, folic acid, and iron, while calorie and fat content are relatively low, making it an excellent choice for maintaining a healthy heart when consumed in moderation.
The findings of the study were presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting earlier this month and researchers have said that it has the potential to shape the future of dietary guidelines.