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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Do the Types of Food You Eat Influence Your Happiness?


One’s daily individual diet can have substantial effects on alleviating negative emotions. Researchers have established that certain types of foods help produce positive emotions in individuals, whereas others can produce negative emotions. Foods that primarily consist of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and good sources of fat have been associated with producing positive emotions that are lasting in individuals. Additionally, foods high in fat and carbohydrates, or highly processed foods, though they may help dissipate negative emotions in the short term, research has suggested that they do not promote happiness in the long term and can even be detrimental to one’s happiness. A survey study was conducted on students from the University of California, Merced to assess whether certain types of foods produce positive emotions among students. Results suggested that foods high in carbohydrates and fats helped students attenuate negative emotions such as stress, and these types of foods tended to be the first choice when students experienced negative emotions. Students primarily chose processed foods to rid themselves of negative emotions and promote happiness, whereas healthier choices were not a popular choice.

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