Fat Means Happy?

A new study finds that fatty-acids, not flavor, enhance mood

You know those days when you’re feeling a little blue and you reach for a slice of chocolate cake for a pick-me-up? New research by a team in Belgium found that you could switch that slice for, say, a tub of pure lard, and still feel happier afterwards.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that it’s the fatty-acids in foods that enhance your mood—meaning flavor’s, well, moot.

Using 12 healthy volunteers, researchers tested the mood-altering effects of a saline solution against one made with fatty-acids. After being injected with one or the other, individuals were then subjected to sad or neutral music and images, and were asked to share their emotions. At the end of the study, the subjects who received the fatty-acid solution reported feeling happier than those who got the saline.

Now, before you run to the nearest pint of Ben & Jerry’s, I have something I’d like to point out: Remember those things you learned about in science class called endorphins? Those funny little hormones that, when released, help you feel happier and less stressed? And remember when you learned that a good ol’ fashioned run or bike ride or swim will actually cause your body to produce and release endorphins? Which is why you feel better and—dare I say it—happier after a session at the gym?

Yeah. I think you can see where I’m going with this.