Previous research suggests that drinking wine in moderation can be good for your health, but new research indicates that drinking beer may also have health benefits.
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), or the so-called "good" cholesterol, levels. A moderate level of drinking for men is one to two drinks per day, and for women a half to one drink per day.
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.
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 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.
Huang presented this preliminary study on Nov. 13 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2016 in New Orleans.