Like Chocolate? Why Eating Pasta Makes You Happy

Like Chocolate? Why Eating Pasta Makes You Happy

A plate of pasta not only satisfies your hunger but also brings a sense of happiness, studies show.

In the world of culinary delights, pasta stands out as a beloved staple, featured in both simple and sophisticated dishes. But beyond its ability to please almost everyone, pasta has surprising benefits for our well-being. Much like chocolate, known for its mood-boosting effects, pasta also has properties that can make us feel happier.

A study conducted by the Behavior & Brain Lab at the Independent University of Languages and Communication (IULM) in Italy has shed light on this phenomenon. The research examined the emotional and neurophysiological responses that contribute to the happiness experienced when eating pasta. The study concluded that consuming pasta induces a "strong and lasting positive emotional-cognitive state."

The findings revealed that pasta is not only associated with feelings of happiness but also with social bonds such as family gatherings and friendships. Approximately 70 percent of study participants reported feeling "overwhelming joy" while eating pasta, and about 40 percent considered pasta to be soul food—comforting and nurturing. And all this seems so related to us, right?

Why Does Pasta Make You Happy?

Pasta's reputation as a mood booster is well-earned. This is largely due to the presence of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into serotonin. Serotonin, often called the happiness hormone, is crucial for our sense of well-being. Additionally, pasta contains complex carbohydrates that promote the production of endorphins, another group of happiness-inducing hormones.

A groundbreaking scientific study investigated emotional reactions to eating pasta. Researchers used neuroscientific and brain-tracking methods similar to lie detectors to analyze facial expressions, emotional brain activation, and heart rate. The study included 40 participants, evenly split between men and women aged 25 to 55. While the study's sample size is small, it provides intriguing initial insights.

Professor Vincenzo Russo, an expert in consumer psychology and neuromarketing at IULM University, discussed the research findings in an interview with Malta Daily. He highlighted how closely linked pasta and happiness are. "This research demonstrates that pasta and happiness go hand in hand," he said.

Russo emphasized that eating pasta activates our emotions significantly. "It is the act of tasting and enjoying the dish in its full flavor that stimulates the most positive memories and emotions," he said. The cognitive and emotional activation triggered by the taste of pasta is so intense and pleasant that it lasts long after the meal is over.