Skip to main content

It’s been scientifically proven that pasta makes you happier

It's not your imagination. Pasta actually does make you happier.

Raw spaghetti
ponce_photography/Pixabay

Is there anything more beautifully comforting, as intensely satisfying, or as incredibly delicious as a big bowl of your favorite pasta dish? From classic spaghetti and meatballs to creamy fettuccine Alfredo to a late-night pasta carbonara, every plate of pasta just feels like a giant hug. Pasta can be as simple as can be, delectable with only a little browned butter and Pecorino Romano, or intricate and sophisticated, accented with fresh seafood and earthy truffles. It’s the perfect pantry staple from which to create a million dishes from a thousand global cuisines, and we can’t get enough. According to Share The Pasta, the average American consumes approximately 20 pounds of pasta annually, making it the sixth-highest food per capita in the country. As a nation, we consume almost 6 billion pounds of pasta every year. It’s also one of the most universally loved and appreciated foods in existence. I fail to recall a time when I’ve ever heard someone say, “Pasta? Nah. Not my thing.”

Everyone loves pasta because pasta is perfection. And now, at long last, science has confirmed what most of us have known since childhood. That this life-giving ingredient actually makes our brains happier.

Spaghetti
ponce_photography / Pixabay

The study

In a study conducted by the Behavioral and Brain Lab of Italy’s Free University of Languages and Communication IULM, researchers tested how humans responded emotionally and neurophysiological to eating pasta. The 40 test subjects ranged in age from 25 – 55 years old and were tested whilst eating pasta using neuro-scientific and brain-tracking methods – methods similar to those used in lie detector tests.

Pasta dish closeup
mariya_m/Pixabay

The results

The scientific results of the study proved what we’ve all known in our hearts forever – that pasta does, of course, make humans happy. The researchers discovered that consuming pasta puts an individual into a powerful, long-lasting emotional-cognitive state comparable to the emotions one feels when listening to a favorite music or watching a beloved movie.

And as delicious as pasta is, the wonderful flavor is not the sole reason it makes humans happy. According to the study, individuals connect pasta with warm feelings of family, sharing, and friendship. Tasting and enjoying a pasta dish evoked these warm emotions in those tested with remarkable results. When surveyed on the feelings associated with pasta, the test subjects agreed that the most significant emotion felt was, overwhelmingly, happiness.

While it would be easy to attribute these findings to nostalgia and memories of Grandma’s homemade rigatoni alone, it would appear there are even more scientific reasons that support pasta happiness. Pasta contains tryptophan and B vitamins, which help with mood regulation, muscle relaxation, and the body’s production of serotonin.

So tonight, give that Keto diet a rest. Go ahead and make a big batch of bucatini.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
The complete guide to cleaning a fish for beginners
A step-by-step guide to handling your next fishing trip haul
Hands holding trout

Sporting your best fishing gear and you just landed a big catch? Nice work! A tasty, fresh fish fillet is just a few slices away. Whether you’re planning to cook the whole fish, steak it, or fillet it, you must learn how to clean your catch. Follow this guide to learn how to clean a fish you just caught fresh.
How long can you keep fresh fish before cleaning it?

Now that you have some freshly caught fish, how long can you keep it whole before it needs to be cleaned? Fish, after all, has incredible health benefits; ideally, you want to clean the whole fish as soon as possible to preserve the best flavor. However, if time or other constraints are an issue for you, you can keep whole fish uncleaned on ice or refrigerated for a day or two at the max. Any longer, and you risk losing precious flavor and texture and risk spoilage.
Preparing to clean a fish

Read more
The best bars in New York City: Our top picks
Here's where to belly up to the bar in NYC
The Quixote Bar.

If you're known as The City That Never Sleeps, you probably have a few good bars to your name. New York is the ultimate beehive, going strong regardless of the borough or time of day. That makes for a pretty rich NYC bar culture.

Sure, there are trending establishments that draw huge lines—look at you, Double Chicken Please. But there are also excellent dives, tremendous wine bars, and watering holes that make you reexamine the definition of a great cocktail.

Read more
The best gins and gin mixers for no hangover
The best hangover cure is to never get one in the first place
Spanish gin tonic

No one drinks alcohol because they’re looking forward to a hangover. Most people drink because they enjoy the flavor and maybe want to get a little bit of a buzz on at happy hour. Sadly, even with the best intentions, sometimes we overdo it, forget to drink a few glasses of water and take a few ibuprofens, and end up with a headache so bad it feels like our head is going to explode and a gurgle-filled, upset belly that makes us think that we ate a bowl of lava the night before.

And while having a few too many beverages is a guarantee you’ll end up with at least a little bit of a hangover (especially the older you get), there are ways to reduce those chances. If you’re sipping on alcohol with more congeners, there’s a better chance you’ll have a headache the next day.

Read more