Washington: Good news for beer buffs: A pint of the beverage a day may ward off your heart disease risk by more than a quarter, a new study has claimed.

Researchers who have analysed 16 studies involving more than 200,000 participants found that the heart disease risk for moderate beer drinkers -- those who drank about a pint a day -- was reduced by 31 percent on average.

The findings, published online by the European Journal of Epidemiology, confirmed what was already known about wine, said the researchers.

"In our research we considered wine and beer separately: you first observe a reduction in cardiovascular risk with low to moderate drinking," said Simona Costanzo, first author of the study, conducted at research labs at the Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura "Giovanni Paolo II" in Campobasso, Italy.

"Then, with an increasing consumption, you can see that the advantage disappears, until the risk gets higher. The interesting part of our research is that, among the studies selected for this meta-analysis, there were 12 in which wine and beer consumption could be compared directly," she said.

"Using these data we were able to observe that the risk curves for the two beverages are closely overlapping."

But beer as well as wine, drinkers, should be cautious before toasting too much at these results, researchers added.

Andrea Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association who was not involved with the new study, said the findings were not surprising.

"Alcohol in moderation can increase your HDL, your good cholesterol. The higher your HDL is, the more protected you are against heart disease," Giancoli said.

Drinking beer may even have some benefits wine does not, Giancoli said. Beer contains more water, and because some people feel bloated by drinking it, they may find it easier to moderate their alcohol intake.

The researchers also noted that heart benefits did not seem to extend to drinking spirits, although fewer statistics were available on that subject.

There is always the possibility that factors aside from the drinks are responsible for the benefits, the researchers conceded, but they said they attempted to control for these.