A study conducted by the “Behavior & Brain Lab” at the Free University of Languages and Communication IULM, who collaborated with Unione Italiana Food, scientifically examined how people feel while eating pasta.
The short story? They feel good. Really good.
Using neuro-scientific and brain tracking methods the researchers measured emotional reactions in 40 subjects and discovered that the act of consuming pasta triggers powerful and positive emotions, similar to—and perhaps even surpassing—the joy induced by listening to music or watching a favorite sport. It’s good to have proof about something most people knew all along—how much happier and satisfied they feel after a delicious plate of pasta.
Pasta can potentially boost serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter known to regulate mood and promote feelings of happiness and well-being. Carbohydrates, including pasta, help increase serotonin levels which may indirectly contribute to feeling happier. Pasta can also increase tryptophan levels in the brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid crucial for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with positive mood, emotional stability, and improved overall mental well-being.
From a physical standpoint, pasta can be beneficial when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, providing energy for the body. Additionally, pasta is low in fat and cholesterol-free. Whole grain pasta, in particular, contains an abundance of dietary fiber, aiding in digestion, weight management, and maintaining a healthy gut. Moreover, pasta is a versatile food that can be paired with nutrient-rich ingredients, such as vegetables and lean proteins, further contributing to a balanced diet.
Now, it is important to note that pasta should not be considered a standalone solution for positive mental health. Regular exercise, ample sleep, a positive social environment with friends and family—all of these are important to long-term happiness.
But it’s good to know that science agrees: a nice plate of pasta can indeed be a very good thing.
So have your pasta, as with all good things, in moderation, paired with a variety of nutritious ingredients, as part of a balanced diet. And know that ultimately, the joy and satisfaction we derive from enjoying a bowl of pasta lies in the experience itself and the memories it often evokes.