Enjoying beer on a daily basis to protect against heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac diseases might sound like a massive contradiction, but it’s true: Cracking open a cold one can keep our ticker strong. Of course, like most things in life, it’s all about moderation.
According to several studies, sipping just one beer (12 oz) a day can provide us with potent antioxidants that lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and prevent the buildup of fat in our arteries. Research has also found that the polyphenols in beer (and wine) may decrease risk of cancer and reduce chronic inflammation.
A study published in the BMC Medicine journal discovered that patients who have already experienced a cardiac episode were able to drastically cut the likelihood of a second heart attack, stroke, or angina by drinking low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol each week. Study authors claimed those who cut back to only half a glass of beer each day (42 grams a week) reduced their risk of repeat cardiac episodes by 50 percent.
None of this is to say you have to chug a little beer every day to protect your heart, especially if you’re a recovering alcoholic or just aren’t a drinker in general. The American Heart Association also warns against slipping into the habit of having more than one or two drinks (including beer, wine, or liquor) on a daily basis. Going overboard can have the opposite effect, causing increased blood pressure, weakened heart muscles, irregular heart rate, atrial fibrillation, and high triglycerides. It can also wreak havoc on the rest of our body by interfering with brain pathways and causing fatty liver disease.
Again, all of those nastier side effects can be avoided by keeping it to one beer a day. You can also add other heart-healthy actions to your nutrition and wellness regimens, like adding more fish and cruciferous vegetables to your plate each week or dipping into a relaxing bath. Whichever way you prefer, we can all say cheers to keeping our hearts happy and strong.