Study Shows Optimists Have Healthier Hearts

Huffington Post: Healthy Living

Good news for those who look at life through a glass half-full. Optimists may be twice as likely to be in "perfect" heart health than pessimistic individuals, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Illinois examined more than 5,100 adults over the course of 11 years based on seven metrics used by the American Heart Association, including blood pressure, body mass index, dietary intake and physical activity.

The study found that there was a correlation between an upbeat attitude and improved cardiovascular health, even after adjusting the data for socio-demographics and mental health factors. Optimists also had better blood sugar and total cholesterol levels, according to the researchers.

While it doesn't always pay to be a Pollyanna (research shows there are a few perks to embracing negative emotions), the findings suggest there may just be more of a silver lining to being an optimist. The study joins a growing body of research that shows how a sunny disposition can improve your health. Optimists have stronger immune systems and lower rates of depression. Looking on the bright side can also undo the effects of distressful experiences, The Atlantic reported.

The new research is believed to be the first of its kind to examine the link between optimism and heart health using a large, diverse population, according to a statement by the study's authors.

The findings were published in the January/February 2015 issue of Health Behavior and Policy Review.

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