PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 March, 2012, 12:00am


Your liver might be crying murder after the weekend's revelry and beer guzzling at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Binge drinking certainly has negative effects on health, but recent research has shown that moderate and regular drinking of beer can actually match wine for its positive effects on cardiovascular health.

The study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, pooled scientific studies conducted worldwide involving more than 200,000 people.

Results confirmed what was already known about wine: a moderate consumption (about two glasses a day for men and one for women) can lower the risk of heart disease, up to 31 per cent lower compared with non-drinkers.

Beer was a surprise: drinking slightly more than a British pint a day (586ml) of a beer containing 5 per cent alcohol offers maximum protection against cardiovascular disease.

The study authors - from the John Paul II Foundation for Research and Treatment in Campobasso, Italy - warn that this finding cannot apply to everybody. For example, in young women still of fertile age, alcohol can slightly raise the risk for some kinds of cancers, acting as a counterbalance to the positive effect on heart disease.

In Hong Kong, each person aged 15 and above drank on average 1.21 litres of alcohol from beer in 2010, according to statistics from the Health Department. That translates to 24.2 litres of beer - assuming beer has 5 per cent alcohol by volume - or 43 pints a year, fewer than one a week.

So, going by the study, it seems we can afford to indulge in beer a bit more to reap the health benefits. But before you do, test yourself on your knowledge of the drink.

1. About how many calories does a typical pint of beer have?

a. 100

b. 140

c. 180

2. Beers with a higher alcohol content have the same number of calories as those with a lower alcohol content.

a. True

b. False

3. Brewer's yeast used in beer is a great source of which nutrient?

a. Niacin

b. Folic acid

c. Chromium

4. What ingredient makes light beer lower in calories and carbohydrate content?

a. Folic acid

b. Ethanol

c. Caffeine

Answers: 1. c; 2. b (alcohol contains about seven calories per gram); 3. all are correct; 4. b.