Drinking This Much Beer a Day Slashes Your Heart Disease Risk, Study Says


It doesn't exactly have the reputation for being a staple of a healthy diet, but many of us still see a cold, crisp beer on a hot summer day as nothing short of a necessity. And if you're looking for a reason to up your intake, science has finally given you a good excuse—your heart health. A handful of studies have found that drinking a certain amount of beer each day can actually help protect your ticker. "It comes down to moderation," J. Michael Gaziano, MD, a preventive cardiologist with Brigham and Women's Hospital, told Harvard Health Publishing. "A safe amount may support a healthy heart and lower your risk of heart disease, while too much can be damaging." To see how much beer it takes to slash your risk of heart disease, read on.

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Drinking one to two beers a day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Shutterstock/Seth Kirschner

A 2016 meta-analysis of studies on the effect of moderate beer consumption on health found that low-to-moderate beer drinking reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease. The research, which was published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, defined low-to-moderate beer consumption as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. According to the paper, there is consistent evidence of a significant inverse association between drinking that much beer and coronary heart disease.

The paper noted that another review published in 2012 found that the main protective effect of beer is likely linked to the alcohol and polyphenols in the drink. The latter has "antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, estrogenic and even antiviral properties." And alcohol itself has also proven to be good for the heart. A 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal found that non-drinkers were 1.3 times more likely to have a heart attack, 1.1 times more likely to have a stroke, and 1.6 times more likely to suffer sudden heart-related death compared to those who drank in moderation.

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Low-to-moderate beer drinking helps maintain good cholesterol.
skynesher / iStock

A 2016 study out of Penn State University led by Shue Huang, a doctoral candidate at the time, found that people who drank a moderate amount of beer "had the slowest decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or the so-called 'good' cholesterol, levels."

Huang and her fellow researchers followed more than 80,000 Chinese participants for six years and found that beer drinkers' slower decrease in HDL is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a statement from Penn State University.

"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," Huang told Time. "All the more reason to raise a glass—but probably not more than that."

Moderate drinking can also protect against all-cause mortality.

The benefits of moderate beer consumption extend beyond your heart health. The 2016 analysis published by Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases also noted that "moderate alcohol consumption protects against total mortality, both in healthy adults and in cardiovascular patients."

Due to the many benefits moderate beer consumption provides, the authors concluded that unless people are at "high risk of alcohol-related cancers, there is no reason to discourage healthy adults who are already regular light-moderate beer (or other alcoholic beverages) consumers from continuing to follow the same pattern."

However, the researchers also acknowledged that those who don't consume beer regularly don't necessarily need to begin.

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However, there are some people who should avoid drinking beer.

The paper pointed out that the consumption of beer, even if moderate, is not recommended for certain groups of people, in addition to those at high risk of alcohol-induced cancers. Young people, pregnant people, anyone with cardiomyopathy or cardiac arrhythmias, or those with liver or pancreatic diseases shouldn't be drinking beer "at any dosage," the authors explain. Additionally, the researchers noted that people on certain drugs, such as antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, should avoid alcohol.

And of course, no one, even those outside of these groups, should be binge drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages, "even on limited occasions such as weekends," the authors said. "Heavy beer drinkers (as well as those exceeding the recommended intake of any alcoholic beverages) should be urged to cut and modify their consumption." The analysis pointed out that excessive beer, or other alcohol, intake can lead to various "cancers, cirrhosis, and death from accidents associated with increasing alcohol consumption."

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