Cholesterol and happiness are not words that are often associated with each other, but researchers have found that there is a connection between the two.
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that middle-aged people with healthy levels of high-density lipoproteins, or “good cholesterol,” are more likely to be optimistic about their future.
The study asked 990 male and female participants between the ages of 40 ad 70 years old if they agreed with a number of statements about life, such as: “I expect more good things to happen to me than bad” and "If something can go wrong for me it will." The participants with sunnier dispositions had better levels of good cholesterol, and often kept “a prudent diet and [had] a lower body mass index,” Julia Boehm, the study's lead author, told Huff/Post50 in an e-mail.
Although Boehm acknowledged that healthy behaviors, like eating well and exercising, could explain some of the optimism-cholesterol relationship, she maintained that they could not explain the entire relationship.
“It could be that other biological factors play a role," she said. "For example, optimism might mitigate inflammation in the body." (Inflammation has been linked to chronic diseases and aging.)
Researchers are currently unsure whether optimism causes good cholesterol or vice versa, and found no connection between “bad cholesterol” and optimism.
“To some extent, the relationship probably goes both ways,” Boehm said. “However, we are most interested in whether optimism actually precedes and leads to healthier lipids (and other health outcomes). There is some evidence to believe that this might be the case.”
Foods such as olive oil, red wine and avocados, can help increase the level of good cholesterol in the body. These high-density lipoproteins have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease.
In order to benefit from the connection between good cholesterol and optimism, Boehm recommends a healthy diet, active social life and plenty of exercise.
“We don't yet have the scientific evidence to make strong claims about this, but I don't think such strategies could hurt,” said Bohem.