by Jessica Girdwain www.news.menshealth.com
Take your pick.
Want to turn your half-empty glass into one that’s half full? Fill it up with carrots and tomatoes. According to a new study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, optimists eat more carotenoids—the antioxidants that produce bright pigments in certain fruits and vegetables—than people with a negative attitude.
Researchers analyzed the blood levels of 982 participants, looking for antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E. The researchers also asked the participants to report how optimistic they were. The results: People who were more optimistic about their future had up to a 13 percent increase in carotenoid concentrations compared to more negative types. In fact, 67 percent of highly optimistic people ate at least three servings of produce per day.
But this isn’t necessarily a cause and effect: It could simply be that optimistic people have healthier habits (like eating more vegetables and smoking less), and are also better equipped to deal with challenges and manage stress. “Optimists tend to persist at their goals and use effective coping strategies, all of which may contribute to the fact that they tend to eat more fruits and vegetables,” says study coauthor Julia Boehm, Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Researchers speculate that psychological well-being may somehow encourage better antioxidant absorption in the body. And even if the link is just a correlation, there’s no disputing the benefits of antioxidants like carotenoids: They neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that damage cells, contribute to inflammation, and are associated with diseases like cancer and diabetes.
The bottom line: Consider a healthier attitude one more reason to bone up on produce. But be sure to skip the supplement and get carotenoids from fruits and vegetables instead (including carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, kale, and cantaloupe), as some studies show that high doses may increase cancer risk.