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November 21, 2016

Beer drinking for a healthy heart?

There have been a number of studies indicating that drinking wine in moderation has health benefits.

Now, research out of Penn State University indicates that beer may, too.

In short, moderate intake of beer may slow down the decline of the so-called "good" cholesterol in the body and thereby lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Research conducted by Shue Huang, a doctoral candidate in nutritional sciences at Penn State, and colleagues found that moderate drinkers had the slowest decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL). A moderate level of drinking for men is one to two drinks per day, and for women a half to one drink per day.

According to a news release from the university:

Drinking beer had a positive effect on HDL levels even among heavy drinkers, but for hard liquor only light to moderate drinking was beneficial, meaning for men less than one serving per day and for women 0-0.4 servings per day. There were not enough wine drinkers in this population to test the effects on HDL.

Huang and colleagues followed more than 80,000 participants for six years and found that while HDL levels declined over time, those who drank beer had a slower decrease in HDL, therefore a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. This particular study was conducted in China, but previous studies suggest that other populations would experience a similar effect, according to the researchers.

The researchers considered a serving to be 12 fluid ounces of beer, 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, or 5 fluid ounces of wine.

Huang presented the preliminary study on Nov. 13 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2016 in New Orleans.

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