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Study: Potatoes key to happiness

11/07/2012 10:30:00 AM
Survey: Potatoes can make you happier (ThinkStock)
Survey: Potatoes can make you happier (ThinkStock)
They’re a mainstay on dinner tables around the world, but did you know that potatoes can make you happier as well?

According to a new scientific study, baked potatoes can have an uplifting effect on our moods.

The feel-good factor from baking the humble spud is attributed to the aroma which is produced during cooking, which triggers positive thoughts and reminds us of happy memories.

Known as the Maillard Effect, a term coined more than a hundred years ago, it occurs when the heat of baking a potato changes the chemical structure of the food and the aromas produced set-off these comforting memories.

The study conducted a survey on a panel aged between 18-30, and when asked what thoughts were triggered, replies were wholly positive including “memories of grandparents” and “summer dinners with my mum”.

Dr Avinash Kant, who headed up the research, said: “Food aromas and their recognition is a complex brain function which we’ve only recently started to understand - but this research goes some way to explaining why we have such an emotional response to jacket potatoes.

“The aroma from a baked potato during the cooking process can evoke many memories in people, simply due to specific aroma compounds that are subconsciously recognised by our memories.”

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