When most people think about Thanksgiving, they focus on food, family and football-watching. But putting the “thanks” back into Thanksgiving is a good start in improving your heart health, researchers say.

“Somebody once said a grateful heart is a healthier heart, and that’s what we saw in this study,” said Paul Mills, Ph.D., a professor and researcher at the University of California-San Diego whose study was published last year by the American Psychology Association.

Mills and his team studied 186 men and women with asymptomatic (Stage B) heart failure to see how their sense of thankfulness and gratitude affected their overall health. First, they focused on psychological health and found that patients who expressed higher levels of gratitude had less depression, less anxiety and slept better.

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