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Beer May Lower Heart Disease Risk and Improve Heart Function

Update Date: Jul 03, 2013 03:31 PM EDT
beer, pint, alcohol
Just one pint of beer is enough to improve blood flow and heart function. (Photo : Pixabay)

Having just one pint of beer a day can help improve the health of major blood vessels around the heart, a new study suggests.

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Greek researchers found that arteries became more flexible and blood flow improved within a couple of hours after drinking beer.

However, researchers noted that alcohol-free beer did not have the same effect.

The latest study supports previous findings that moderate beer consumption may protect against heart disease. Previous studies suggest that having a pint of beer a day reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes by up to 30 percent.  However, researchers at Harokopio University in Athens say the latest study is the first to look at what actually happens to the cardiovascular system immediately after drinking beer.

The study included 17 non-smoking men aged in their late twenties and early thirties. Then men had their cardiovascular health measured within two hours after drinking two-thirds of a pint or 400 milliliters of beer.  

Researchers later repeated the same experiment with alcohol-free beer and an equivalent amount of vodka.

After participants finished their beverages, researchers tested their endothelial function - a measure of how easily blood passes through major arteries - and their aortic stiffness, a test designed to see whether blood vessels are relaxed or hardened.

The findings published in the journal Nutrition, revealed that while all three drinks had some beneficial effect on the stiffness of arteries, alcohol beer produced the best results.

"Endothelial function was significantly improved only after beer consumption," researchers wrote in the study.

Researchers say the combination of alcohol and antioxidants in beer may be the reason why beer improved heart function more than non-alcoholic beer and vodka.

"Beer acutely improves parameters of arterial function and structure, in healthy non-smokers. This benefit seems to be mediated by the additive or synergistic effects of alcohol and antioxidants and merits further investigation," researchers concluded. 

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