Health

One Beer a Day Can Keep the Doctor Away, a New Study Finds

Need a reason to cheers? A new study suggests a quick stop at happy hour could actually benefit your heart.

beer-bottles

Researchers at Penn State University investigated the relationship between alcohol intake and levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), a "good cholesterol" that promotes cardiovascular health.

Lead author Shue Huang measured HDL levels in 80,000 Chinese adults over the course of six years. The findings were presented November 13 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, Louisiana.

HDL levels declined more slowly in moderate drinkers than people who either drank heavily or abstained from drinking altogether, the authors observed. HDL declines were slower among beer drinkers than those who opted for comparable servings of hard liquor. (The study did not include enough wine drinkers to measure its impacts.)

drinking-the-last-drop

As the Mayo Clinic explains, HDL delivers excess cholesterol from the bloodstream into the liver and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Huang's research suggests that a daily beer may help fend off these conditions.

But don't head to the bar just yet...

A moderate drink for men in the study constituted 1-2 servings of alcohol, and 0.5-1 serving for women. (You can see how a serving measures up on the National Institute of Health, though it may be a bit of a buzzkill.)

Heavy drinking virtually eliminated the HDL benefits, researchers found.

beer-flight

The authors caution that more research is needed on non-Chinese populations to support the findings.

Previous research has linked moderate drinking to a healthy heart.

Indeed, while it's not a slam-dunk case yet, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reviewed over 100 studies on alcohol and cardiovascular health and found that moderate drinkers were 25 percent to 40 percent less likely to suffer from various heart conditions, compared to non-drinkers.

Drink less alcohol

A beer isn't the only way to increase your "good cholesterol" levels.

Exercise, weight loss, reducing sugar intake, and other dietary choices can also raise HDL, according to Everyday Health.