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.