Drinking in moderation may slow decline of “good” cholesterol levels

By Rebecca Burton • Published: February 8th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When we hear the word cholesterol we often associate it with bad health. But your body also has good cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein, that can help fight bad cholesterol by drawing it from your arteries and sending it to your liver, where it can be processed.

Without good cholesterol present, too much bad cholesterol — or low-density lipoprotein — along the arterial walls can cause a buildup of plaque known as atherosclerosis. So, what’s one way to keep your body’s good cholesterol at healthy levels? Some scientists say drink a few beers a week.

A new study conducted by a research team from Pennsylvania State University and Kailuan Hospital in China found that those who drink moderately experienced a slower decline in good cholesterol than those who didn’t drink, or those who drank heavily.

To conduct the study, the team analyzed data from more than 80,000 Chinese adults, whose average age was 49. The participants were placed into groups based on their drinking habits: never, past, light, moderate and heavy drinkers. Women who had between half and one drink a day and men who had between one and two drinks a day were considered moderate drinkers.

The researchers, however, found that the kind of alcohol also made a difference. Those who consumed beer experienced a slower decline in good cholesterol levels than those who primarily drank hard liquor.

Scientists aren’t sure why the kind of alcohol made such a difference or if the results could be replicated outside of China, where other cultural factors may apply. But until more research is done, consider raising a pint and toasting the potential heart-health benefits of a daily beer.