Researchers said moderate alcohol intake slowed the body’s natural decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
HDL cholesterol, also known as ‘good cholesterol’, removes harmful cholesterol from the body and reduces a person’s heart disease risk.
While the study of 80,000 Chinese adults showed promising results, doctors have warned people that more research is needed before any firm conclusions can be made.
In other words, don’t start drinking a pint of beer every day just yet.
Pennsylvania State University researchers discovered that men who drank one or two alcoholic beverages per day had a slower decline in ‘good’ cholesterol, compared to those who didn’t drink or who drank heavily.
This was the same for women who had up to one drink a day, according to The Telegraph.
While the results were fairly similar regardless of whether the study’s participants drank spirits or beer, researchers did note that beer had the largest and more favourable effect.
In response to the study’s finding, Dr Nitin Shori, medical director of the Pharmacy2U online doctor service, said: “While inconclusive, this study appears to suggest that there may be some health benefits in drinking small amounts of alcohol when it comes to reducing the risk of stroke or cardiovascular disease.
“More research is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.”
Alcohol is one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity.
The latest NHS advice is that there is no safe level of drinking alcohol and neither men nor women should drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, said: “There are so many conflicting studies being published on a daily basis that it is difficult to know what health advice to take and what to ignore.
“We do know that alcohol consumption is bad for liver function and for weight gain, it can negatively impact sleep and mental health, it has been linked to cancer along with a whole host of other diseases including hepatitis and cirrhosis.
“Conversely, there have been studies to suggest that moderate alcohol consumption can have some health benefits – and there’s no doubt that many people like to use such arguments to justify their actions when reaching for a glass.
“The key is in the moderation message. If you drink too much alcohol it will have a detrimental effect on your health.”