A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation shows that consuming food with saturated fat may help fend off negative emotions. In the study, the participants were fed through an unmarked stomach tube of either a solution of saturated fatty acids or a simple saline solution. They then listened to sad music and looked at photos of sad faces. Those that had a stomach full of saturated fat were more upbeat than those who were "fed" the saline solution. MRI scans noticed a similar pattern; the fatty solution seemed to dampen activity in parts of the brain that are involved in sadness.
The study does have some limitations, however. There were only 12 participants and all were of normal weight. Further research is needed to see both if other diet components besides saturated fat could have an effect on the brain, and if brain reactions vary among weight levels.
But for the time being, the study does show evidence that eating healthy is quite challenging since that pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream you're craving isn't just psychological but also biological. Had a bad day? Go ahead, have another scoop of Chunky Monkey—it'll make you feel happier.