As if we needed any more reason to crack open a cold one after a hard day’s work, a new study says drinking a moderate amount of beer or spirits every day could help reduce your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University examined more than 80,000 healthy Chinese adults over the course of six years, during which time the participants answered questions about their drinking habits and gave blood four times for analysis. This allowed the researchers to measure the participants’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or their ‘good cholesterol’ along with their liver function and inflammatory markers.

Participants who reported drinking moderate amounts of alcohol (one serving per day for women and two for men) experienced the lowest drop in HDL levels. This level of alcohol consumption also appeared to slow the natural decline of participants’ HDL levels.

Participants who abstained or drank more heavily did not experience these same benefits.

This discovery is important because increased concentrations of HDL particles are linked to a decreasing chance of developing atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque on artery walls), which can result in stroke and cardiovascular disease. 

“Almost without exception if you look at fatal and non fatal heart disease, people who drink in moderation have substantially lower rates than people who abstain,” said study author Shue Huang.

“All the more reason to raise a glass – but probably not more than that.”

While the trend was evident in both beer and spirits consumption, the impact was stronger in beer drinkers. Shue added that more research is required to figure out whether these same results would be observed in non-Chinese populations.

h/t Reuters