A study in which teetotal Spanish nuns drank a regular half-litre of beer showed that beer may help reduce cholesterol levels, a group financed by the Spanish Beer Makers' Association said today.
The study also showed that the beer did not need to contain alcohol or to be drunk in large quantities to be good for you.
The "magic" ingredient is hops.
"Hops, one of the basic components of beer, may provide benefits ... in reducing levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides," the Centre for Information on Beer and Health said in a statement.
The experiment did not appear to have won many new beer fans among the teetotal Cistercian nuns who took part, chosen on the basis of their steady lifestyle and balanced diet.
"To be honest, if I needed it to reduce cholesterol or whatever I'd continue to drink it, but I wouldn't just drink beer (for itself) because I don't like it," Sister Maria Jose told Spanish state television RTVE.
Fifty nuns drank half a litre of beer a day for 45 days, then stopped for six months. Then they took 400 milligrams of hops daily for 40 days.
The result was a six per cent reduction in total cholesterol among those with high levels, the Centre said.
"We did it for the good of humanity," Sister Almerinda Alvarez told the newspaper El Pais.