29 September is World Heart Day. A day dedicated to prevention of cardiovascular disease. This year the theme is ‘Power your life’. A healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Moderate beer consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Europe. Each year more than 4 million Europeans die because of heart disease and stroke, which is half of all deaths.1,2 A healthy lifestyle is very important in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and maintaining a healthy body weight and diet, being physically active and non-smoking all contribute to reduced risk.
Moderate alcohol consumption and science
In addition to the above, moderate beer consumption may also form part of a healthy lifestyle and is associated (15 – 30 g alcohol per day) with a 25% lower relative risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to abstainers.3 And the scientific evidence keeps growing. A recent meta-analysis4 published in June shows moderate alcohol consumption (12 – 24 g alcohol per day) is associated with a decrease in relative risk of 25 – 30 % for coronary artery disease. Another study5 published in August found that young adults (24 – 45 years) who drank alcohol in moderation had higher levels of HDL-cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol) and lower LDL-cholesterol (‘bad’ cholesterol) in their blood compared to abstainers. A summary of the results of a very large study on the health of American nurses shows moderate alcohol consumption decreased the risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke and sudden cardiac death compared to abstainers.6 Heavy alcohol consumption may have adverse effects on heart health; moderation is therefore important.
Research on beer and the heart
The association of cardiovascular disease and beer is mostly due to the alcohol it contains, though some studies found that the presence of polyphenols in non-alcoholic beer might also positively influence heart health. A group of men aged 55 – 75 years researchers had lower blood pressure (12 – 16% lower) after drinking non-alcoholic beer for four weeks.7 However, there is more research needed to support this finding. Read more about beer, alcohol and cardiovascular disease here or have a look at our infographic:
7. Chiva-Blanch G, Magraner E, Condines X et al. (2015). Effects of alcohol and polyphenols from beer on atherosclerotic biomarkers in high cardiovascular risk men: a randomized feeding trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, 25(1):36-45.