'Mine's a pint!' Beer brings heart health cheer, Greek study suggests

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

'Mine's a pint!' Moderate beer consumption could boost heart health, new study suggests (Picture Credit: Iain Farrell/Flickr)
'Mine's a pint!' Moderate beer consumption could boost heart health, new study suggests (Picture Credit: Iain Farrell/Flickr)
Moderate beer consumption has a measurable acute beneficial effect on several important cardiovascular disease biomarkers according to a new study from Greek researchers.

“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,”​ Karatzi et al. write in an article published in Nutrition ​on June 28.

The team claims to be the first to assess the effects of beer consumption on arterial function/structure and brachial/aortic blood pressure and the role of its constituents (alcohol and antioxidants) on these parameters.

Introducing their study, the Greece and US-based team referred to literature from the past 30 years suggesting a lower risk for coronary heart disease and mortality in middle-aged and older adults drinking one to two alcoholic beverages daily.

Synergistic effects of alcohol and antioxidants

This research suggests several synergistic effects of alcohol and non-alcoholic components (i.e. antioxidants) in alcoholic drinks (particularly red wine, but also beer and whisky), Karatzi et al. add.

But the effect of beer on arterial function and structure had been inadequately investigated thus far, the researchers write, despite the fact that (like red wine) it contains ethanol and antioxidants.

“To our knowledge, there is no data regarding the effect of acute beer intake on arterial biomarkers of atherosclerosis (pulse wave velocity), augmentation index, flow-mediated dilation or aortic pressure,” ​the scientists write.

They add that these biomarkers provide a comprehensive non-invasive assessment of early arterial disease, and are important CVD “predictors of risk”.

The scientists recruited 17 healthy, non-smoking men with an average age of 28.5 and an average weight of 77.5kg who consumed all three beverages on three separate occasions, with at least one week between each.

These were: 400ml of beer and 400ml water; 800ml of dealcoholized beer (same polyphenol count, around 48mg, as 400ml of beer); 67ml of vodka and 733ml water (same alcohol as 400ml of water).

Results don’t extend to women

Karatzi et al. found that aortic stiffness was significantly and similarly reduced by all three drinks, but endothelial function was significantly improved only after beer drinking (1.33% on average).

Wave reflections were significantly reduced by all three interventions, but beer (9.1%) and vodka (8.5%) were higher compared with dealcoholized beer (2.8%); pulse pressure amplification (brachial and aortic) was increased by all three test drinks.

Study limitations include the fact that no molecular and biochemical mechanisms were investigated and that the sample size was small, Karatzi et al write, adding that they could not extrapolate the results to women or those with pathologic (disease-related) conditions.

Title:​ ‘Acute Effects of Beer on Endothelial Function and Hemodynamics: A Single-Blind, Crossover Study in Healthy Volunteers’

Authors: ​Karatzi, K., Rontoyanni, V.G., Protogerou, A.D., Georgoulia, Konstantinos, X., Chrysou, J., Sfikakis, P.P., Sidossis, L.S.

Source: Nutrition​, Published online ahead of print, June 28 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2013.02.016​,

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