Control Your Stress, Increase Your HDL
This one’s for you, guys. While it may not be a surprise to you that keeping hostile emotions in check is good for your heart, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not your LDL cholesterol you’re corralling, but your HDL cholesterol that’s saving the day.
In a study reported on at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in August, researchers found no connection between LDL and hostility. Working with 716 mostly white males, average age 65, researchers asked the men each week what the most stressful situation they faced was and how they coped with it. Their strategies were correlated with levels of hostility.
Following overnight fasting, blood samples were taken and measured for HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. (High HDL tends to protect your arteries from plaque formation, while high LDL is associated with clogging up your pipes.)
If a man tended to use hostile coping strategies or isolate and blame himself, a form of self-directed hostility and an equally stressful response, they had lower HDL levels.
Carolyn Aldrin, Ph.D, chairwoman of the department of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, speculates that keeping calm means you don’t risk spikes of hormones like cortisol, which affects your blood fat levels.
Bottom Line: Keeping a cool head helps your heart. If you can’t fix a problem, the next best solution may be to breathe deeply and realize it’s not the end of the world. Then focus on something more positive.