Eating Pasta Really Does Make You Happier, According to Study

published Jan 25, 2024
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Overhead shot of pasta alla boscaiola in a cream and yellow rimmed pasta plate, topped with herbs and cheese.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

There is something about a giant bowl of pasta that just screams comfort. Whether it’s a gooey bowl of mac and cheese, a decadent square of lasagna, or a plate of spaghetti topped with homemade marinara, all these dishes tend to soothe us of the world’s worries — even just temporarily. However, the good feelings aren’t just in your head, according to a study conducted by the Behavioral and Brain Lab at the Free University of Languages and Communication IULM in Milan, Italy.

The study was released in 2023, but the results continue to resonate. In the study, the emotional reaction of 40 subjects (20 women and 20 men) between the ages of 25 and 55, were studied while eating pasta in comparison to their other favorite activities like listening to music or watching sports, according to a statement released by The International Pasta Organisation. The results proved that tasting pasta caused a more “positive emotional cognitive state” than the other activities, meaning that the experience of eating pasta is equated to recalling happy memories.

The study also showed that eating pasta had a higher memorization index, meaning it allowed participants to remember more, has a more addictive stimulus (but we knew this already), and a higher emotional index that equates eating pasta with happiness.

Pasta is a comfort food for many of us, likely synonymous with memories of our childhood or even as a special occasion treat. I mean, how many of us went out for pizza and pasta after an event like a graduation, birthday, or anniversary?

The study has not been published publicly and was also conducted on behalf of Unione Italiana Food, a company that represents Italy’s pasta makers, so more studies will need to be done to validate the facts. Nonetheless, we all know how pasta makes us feel so if you’re having a bad day, maybe pasta is the best choice for dinner.