Improve Your Bad Mood with Fatty Food

A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed that this great big delicious, chocolate-fudge ice cream sundae has the power to reduce feelings of sadness.

Congratulations science… now know what every Mom with a crying child has known for millenia.

Food soothes raw emotions.

In particular, fatty foods can reduce feelings of sadness or stress or depression…

The Science

The researchers took a group of twelve healthy human volunteers and:

  1. Put them on a 12 hour fast
  2. Induced either neutral or sad emotions (via music & visual images)
  3. Delivered an intragastric infusion of either fatty acids of saline
  4. Measured their levels of fullness, hunger, nausea and mood
  5. Performed a 40-minute fMRI scan, while
  6. Measuring fullness, hunger, nausea and mood 3 more times during the fMRI scan.

Here’s what they found

  • Hunger scores increased during sad emotion and decreased during neutral emotion conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference in hunger ratings between the emotions was much smaller in fat compared with that in saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect)
  • This indicates that the effect of sad mood on hunger is attenuated by fatty acids.
  • The fMRI results agreed with these findings – showing that the behavioral and nerve cell responses to sad emotions were also lessened.

  • Mood ratings decreased during the sad conditions, with no change or a slight increase during the neutral conditions (main effect of emotion).
  • The difference between emotions was smaller in the fat than in the saline vehicle conditions (fat-by-emotion interaction effect).
  • This difference confirms that fatty acids successfully moderate feelings of sadness.


Previous research has shown that sugary, high-carb foods are effective in attenuating moods – ie making sad people less sad.

This study shows that dietary fat has the same effect.

However, it neglects to mention that drowning your sorrows in lasagna & ice cream sundaes is not a fool-proof solution.