Pasta al Pomerola - Sm - © unknown

Science Nugget: Pasta Really Does Make You Happy!

I think we’ve all had a bad day brightened by a big, steaming bowl of pasta at one time or another. But now Italian researchers (who else would it be?) say they have discovered solid, scientific proof that pasta makes people happy…

Pasta al Pomerola - © anonymous

A silver bullet for the ‘hangries’? Maybe…

What they did

A team at the Neuromarketing Behavioral & Brain Lab at Italy’s Free University of Languages and Communication (IULM), wanted to see if there was a real, testable connection between how people respond emotionally and neurologically to eating pasta…

In partnership with Unione Italiana Food, a major European pasta maker, the IULM team used techniques similar to those employed in lie detectors to measure emotional and physiological responses in 40 volunteer subjects, aged 25 to 55.

What they found

The study revealed a whole bunch of fascinating results:

  • Eating pasta activates a strong and sustained emotional-cognitive state similar to listening to music or watching sports,
  • The taste of pasta alone stimulates positive memories and emotions.
  • Individuals associate eating pasta with spending time with family and friends.
  • 40 percent of participants consider pasta a comfort food. And…
  • 76 percent confirmed that eating pasta increases happiness.

On the neuroscience front, the researchers observed that eating pasta – a complex carbohydrate – stimulate endorphins, which increases absorption tryptophan and B vitamins found in pasta. Tryptophan (the stuff some scientists say makes us sleepy after a big turkey dinner) helps regulate mood. B vitamins relax muscles while producing serotonin. This is a bigie.

The Cleveland Clinic tells us: “Serotonin is one of the natural body chemicals that controls your mood. It works with melatonin to help control when you sleep and wake up, as well as how you feel pain, wellbeing and sexual desire.

The takeaway

Professor Vincenzo Russo, founder of the Behavior & Brain Lab IULM, sums it up nicely: “Pasta and happiness are inseparable.”

My take

There is now sound scientific evidence that pasta makes people happy. We actually knew that all along. But now we have a license to – as we said back in the day – ‘grove on it’!

Viva Vincenzo!

~ Maggie J.