Page last updated: August 20, 2013
Drinking beer improves arterial function, Greek study finds

Researchers at the Harohopio University in Athens conducted a study to determine the effect of beer consumption on CV risk. In order to explore the underlying mechanisms, they studied the acute effects of the constituents of beer (alcohol and antioxidants), on established predictors of CV risk: endothelial function, aortic stiffness, pressure wave reflections and aortic pressure.

In a randomised, single-blind, crossover study, 17 healthy, non-smoking, men (ages 28.5 ± 5.2 y with body mass index 24.4 ± 2.5 kg/m2) consumed on three separate occasions, at least 1 wk apart: 1. 400 mL of beer and 400 mL water, 2. 800 mL of dealcoholised beer (same amount of polyphenols as in the 400 mL of beer), and 3. 67 mL of vodka and 733 mL water (same amount of alcohol as in the 400 mL of beer).

Each time aortic stiffness (pulse wave velocity), pressure wave reflections, aortic and brachial pressure, and endothelial function were assessed at fast and 1 and 2 h postprandial.

Aortic stiffness was significantly and similarly reduced by all three interventions. However, endothelial function was significantly improved only after beer consumption (average 1.33%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.15–2.53). Although wave reflections were significantly reduced by all three interventions (average of beer: 9.1%, dealcoholised beer: 2.8%, vodka 8.5%, the reduction was higher after beer consumption compared with dealcoholised beer. Pulse pressure amplification (i.e. brachial/aortic) was increased by all three test drinks.

The findings suggest both the alcohol and antioxidants in beer might be beneficial to heart function. The authors conclude that 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, the researchers state, merits further investigation.

Source: Acute effects of beer on endothelial function and hemodynamics: A single-blind, crossover study in healthy volunteers. Kalliopi Karatzi, Victoria G. Rontoyanni, Athanase D. Protogerou, Aggeliki Georgoulia, Konstantinos Xenos, John Chrysou, Petros P. Sfikakis, Labros S. Sidossis. Nutrition, published on-line 2013.

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