▪ Objective: To describe changes in negative emotions among participants of a cholesterol-lowering study.
▪ Design: Cohort study. Quantitative evaluation of changes in negative emotions in relation to diet and plasma cholesterol levels before and after a 5-year dietary intervention program aimed at reducing plasma cholesterol levels.
▪ Setting: Community-dwelling families of the Family Heart Study, Portland, Oregon.
▪ Participants: One hundred forty-nine men and 156 women from 233 families (mean age, 37.7 years).
▪ Measurements: Changes in negative emotions including depression and aggressive hostility as measured by the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL-90).
▪ Results: Improvement in overall emotional state was noted for the entire sample. Those who consumed a low-fat, high complex-carbohydrate diet at the end of the study showed significantly greater improvements in depression (P = 0.044; difference in improvement, 2.9 points) and aggressive hostility (P = 0.035; difference in improvement, 3.3 points) as well as a reduction in their plasma cholesterol levels (P = 0.024; difference in improvement, 2.7%) compared with those who ate a high-fat "American diet."
▪ Conclusions: Participation in a cholesterol-lowering program may not be associated with a worsening in emotional state. To the contrary, improvements in diet appear to be associated with reductions in depression and aggressive hostility as well as with lowered plasma cholesterol levels.