Yes, you heard it right. Mild to moderate consumption of Beer (350ml to 3500ml per week) is beneficial for heart in healthy individuals. A recent study conducted in Japan suggested the same.
How Beer is beneficial?
Increased arterial stiffness has been identified as an independent risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is generally used as an index of arterial stiffness. Large elastic artery stiffness is progressively greater with advancing age, even in healthy people, but physical activity and dietary habits can alter the severity of the age-related arterial stiffening. Interestingly, epidemiological studies have demonstrated association between alcohol intake and arterial stiffness.
Arterial stiffness is significantly lower in mild to moderate drinkers than in both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers (Sierksma et al. 2004; Hougaku et al. 2005; Mattace-Rose et al. 2005). These epidemiological studies suggest the possibility that habitual mild to moderate alcohol consumption might reduce or prevent arterial stiffening.
Beer is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world, and contains not only alcohol but also, like red wine, polyphenols. A number of studies have noted the vascular protective effects of beer.
Which substance in beer is causing the benefit?
Beer contains alcohol, antioxidant substances, and sugar, and therefore, the study investigated which of these components explain the acute reduction in arterial stiffness induced by beer ingestion.
Supplementary experiment 1 demonstrated no significant changes in PWV and Cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI) in participants given alcohol free beer, regardless of whether it contained sugar. Thus, the effects of sugar in beer are considered to be negligible.
Next, in the DPPH-fre radical scavenging activity analysis (Supplementary experiment 2), antioxidant capacity did not differ between the alcohol-containing beer and alcohol-free control beer. Thus, antioxidant capacity seems unlikely to affect the reduction in arterial stiffness.
Finally, ingestion of even a small amount of beer, such as 200 or 350ml, increased breath alcohol concentration (BAC), and the reduction in arterial stiffness was found only when a 0.05 mg/L increase inn BAC was observed.
Moreover, the circulating alcohol levels were significantly and negatively correlated with the changes in PWV or CAVI as indexes of arterial stiffness. Therefore, the data suggest that the alcohol in beer is the main contributor to the reduction in arterial stiffness associated with beer consumption.
How the beer of alcohol reduces arterial stiffness remains unknown. However, the changes in arterial stiffness are generally though to results from structural changes, functional changes, or a combination of both. In the present study, blood pressure and heart rate did not decrease significantly and/or increased slightly after acute beer ingestion.
However, a previous study has indicated that acute ingestion of alcohol reduces BP variability, which is index of sympathetic control of vasomotor tone (Buckman et al. 2015). Thus, one possible mechanism underlying acute effects of beer or alcohol ingestion on arterial function may be related to the change in sympathetic control of vasomotor tone.
This doesn’t mean drink everyday
On the other hand, studies in vitro have demonstrated that a low concentration of alcohol can promote Nitric Oxide (NO) release from endothelial through upregulation of NO synthase, while high concentration or chronic consumption of alcohol could impair endothelial function by decreasing NO bioavailability (Toda and Ayajiki 2010; Zhou et al. 2016).
Role of Nitric Oxide
NO, as an important endogenous vasodilator, plays a key role in regulating blood pressure and protecting against pathological vascular damage (Toda and Ayajiki 2010). Therefore, it is also possible that a small amount of beer or alcohol could promote an increase in NO, thereby reducin arterial stiffness. Relevant to this, beer ingestion was recently shown to increase vascular endothelium function (Tousoulis et al. 2009; Karatzi et al. 2013).
Alcohol, beneficial or harmful?
Is regular ingestion of a small amount beer or other alcohol beverages associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular and all cause mortalities? Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that J-shaped relationships are observed for cardiovascular disease and/or all cause mortalities.
However, longitudinal studies indicate no significant relationship between alcohol consumption and diseases, and relative risks for mild drinkers were approximately the same as for nondrinkers. In addition, the ingestion of alcoholic beverages in excess of the mild to moderate level is known to elicit a reduction in arterial compliance, which means an increase in arterial stiffness.
As Doctors say, alcohol in moderation works like a medicine. But on the other hand, if you start consuming medicine like food, it will make way more harms than the benefits you are expecting. Infact, no benefits at all.
So our conclusion in, mild to moderate consumption of beer 350-3500 ml per week is beneficial. Trying to get more benefit by drinking more, won’t give you any benefit.
Note: This is an informational article. Always consult with your doctor if you have any kind of health conditions before consuming alcoholic drinks.