Dr Simona Costanzo revealed her findings at this week’s European Beer & Health Symposium in Brussels, which also shared research on the potential of certain ingredients to improve the health benefits of the drink and the possibility of creating a gluten-free variety.
Delegates were told that men could drink up to four drinks per day and women up to two without increasing their chances of heart problems.
Costanzo told the conference that studies had consistently shown a “protective effect of regular and moderate alcohol consumption against fatal and not fatal cardiovascular events and mortality for any cause”. She said that research had proven teetotallers and heavy drinkers were at the highest risk of heart problems, while moderate drinkers were at the lowest end.
She said: “We have lots of evidence that shows moderate and regular beer consumption is protective.
“One or two beers a day reduces the overall risk of dying young.”
Beer vs wine
Costanzo said that despite the perception that wine is healthier than beer, her studies had shown comparable impacts on the heart.
She concluded that the hazards of binge drinking should continue to be stressed but insisted that moderate drinkers with a history of cardiovascular disease should also be warned of the dangers of abstaining completely from alcohol.
The focus of the symposium is to provide a platform for scientists who have researched the effects of moderate beer consumption on health. This year’s event also saw a presentation by public health nutritionist Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan on whether the ‘beer belly’ is fact or myth. Sullivan’s conclusions, which have previously been reported in a publication from the British Beer & Pub Association, confirmed that while excessive consumption of beer (or any alcohol) can lead to obesity, moderate consumption generally leads to a normal or falling Body Mass Index.