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Most of us enjoy eating ice cream – it’s a treat, can be a reward and frequently features in moments of celebration. However, did you know that eating ice cream can actually make you happier? No, it’s not just a marketing ploy or a clever advertising story but something that has actually been backed up by science. Ice cream is not only something that we like to consume but it can boost happiness levels too.

What happens to your brain when you eat ice cream?

Apart from the inevitable “yum” response, scientists have also found that eating ice cream can make a big difference to your happiness levels. In fact, it can trigger the same sense of satisfaction as listening to your favourite music does. The research that established this was carried out by the Institute of Psychiatry, based in London. It was designed to examine what happens to our brains when we consume ice cream and found that most of us have an emotional reaction when eating this type of food.

And the research says…

Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry used a fMRI scanner to look for changes in the blood flow to the brain. These indicate that, at the moment when blood flow alters, the brain is engaged in some kind of mental event. The scientists found that eating ice cream can activate the Orbitofrontal cortex of the brain. This is the part that is associated with pleasure and the fact that it comes to life when we consume ice cream indicates the reward value we associate with eating it.

So, ice cream is good for you?

Just like anything, it’s always good to consume ice cream in moderation. However, as well as making you happier there are a number of other ways in which this cold treat can improve your life experience, including:

  • Ice cream can help with stress. There is also research to indicate that when you eat ice cream it stimulates thrombopoietin, which is a hormone that can help to bring your stress levels down. It also contains L-tryptophan, which acts as a natural tranquiliser.
  • You’ll get an energy boost. If you’re feeling sluggish then a bowl of ice cream could give you a boost thanks to the combination of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that each scoop delivers.
  • It’s a source of vitamins and nutrients. Ice cream doesn’t just make you happier but can contribute to making you healthier too thanks to the presence of vitamin A, Vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin.
  • We all deserve a treat. Whether it’s the middle of winter and you’re struggling with grey skies or you’ve just had a hard day, a bowl of ice cream can make all the difference. In fact, research has found that it can even help to produce serotonin, which is a feel good hormone.

No matter what your motivation for eating ice cream, according to science, there are many good things that can come from enjoying a bowl of your favourite flavour.