From sharing quality time with loved ones, listening to your favourite song, or your football team winning a match, there are many ways to put a smile on a face.
Now, pasta has been added to the list of things that contribute to increasing happiness.
An Italian study set out to scientifically explore the emotional and neuro-physiological mechanisms which underlie the bliss experienced when eating pasta.
This research was conducted by the “Behaviour & Brain Lab” at the Free University of Languages and Communication IULM, in collaboration with Unione Italiana Food, a leading Italian association for direct representation of food products.
It found that consuming pasta triggers “a powerful and lasting positive emotional-cognitive state”.
For this study, researchers analysed consumption habits. It found that individuals associated pasta consumption with happiness, family sharing, and friendship.
In addition, “overwhelming happiness” was the immediate response for about 70% of the study’s participants, with about 40% of them considering pasta to be a comfort food.
It appears that the make-up of pasta could also be a reason for enhancing moods.
This is largely attributed to the presence of tryptophan, which is known for its mood regulation properties, as well as B vitamins, which aid muscle relaxation and serotonin production. Both are found within the pasta itself.
Meanwhile, the carbohydrates in pasta, particularly complex ones, have also been proven to stimulate endorphins.
And while pasta is one of the most beloved dishes across the globe, this is the first time that scientific research has delved into the emotions it elicits.
In order to reach its findings, researchers used neuro-scientific and brain-tracking methodologies for the study.
This was similar to those used for lie detectors, which analyse facial expressions, emotional brain activations, heart rate variation, and microperspiration.
For the Italian-based study, a sample of 40 subjects, which included an equal number of men and women, between the ages of 25 and 55 years, participated in the research.
Professor of Consumer Psychology and Neuromarketing at IULM University, Vincenzo Russo, who is also the founder and co-ordinator of the “Behaviour & Brain Lab IULM”, told media publication “Malta Daily” that, “Through this study, science has put itself at the service of emotions to certify that pasta and happiness are one.”
He reported to the publication that the results revealed that “it is precisely when we eat pasta that we are most emotionally active”.
“It is, therefore, the real act of tasting and savouring the dish in its full flavour to stimulate the most positive memories and emotions.
“This cognitive and emotional activation determined by the taste of pasta is so strong, pleasant and engaging to persist even moments after eating.”
Meanwhile, scores of social media users came out in support of the research’s findings that pasta has been scientifically proven to make you happier.
@Mariagray9611 wrote on Instagram that she “Didn’t doubt it.” @franco.lil added, “It certainly makes me happy. lol. But I am Italian! Lol.”
@deborahcard0 also wrote on the social media site in response to the research findings, “Nothing has ever made more sense.”
This was comparable, and in some cases, even surpassed the joy induced by favourite activities like listening to music or watching sports.