"You are what you eat." A platitude used by parents and high school health teachers alike. And a new report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has added credence to this adage.
Research conducted by psychologists at the North Dakota State University in Fargo suggests that individuals who regularly eat sweets are more likely to help another person in need. In five separate studies, researchers found a strong correlation between sweet taste preferences, otherwise known as a "sweet tooth," and actions that benefit others or society as a whole.
One such study found that those randomly assigned to eating chocolate performed more altruistic acts than those randomly chosen to eat crackers or nothing at all. Another study found that most people "believed that strangers who like sweet foods were also higher in agreeableness."
While much still has to be uncovered about taste preference and personality, researchers are surprised by the studies' findings.
Partaking in sweets should be done in moderation. After all, foods that fall into the "sweet" category are typically high in sugar, fat, and calories. That said, there are saccharine snacks that can benefit your health:
1. Candy eating improves longevity. A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who partook in modest candy consumption lived longer than those who never do.
2. Dark chocolate for heart health. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids-powerful antioxidants known for their ability to help the body resist cell damage. What's more, flavonoids also benefit the body's vascular system-improving blood flow to the heart and lowering blood pressure.
3. Dark chocolate to de-stress. Not only have studies shown that eating dark chocolate can lower the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure, but a study published by Journal of Proteome Research found that eating dark chocolate can reduce your stress levels.
4. Chewing gum boosts your mood. Studies have found that an individual who chews gum becomes more attentive and less stressed.
American Chemical Society. New evidence that dark chocolate helps ease emotional stress. ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111123612.htm.
Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled
Kamiya K, Fumoto M, Kikuchi H, Sekiyama T, Mohri-Lkuzawa Y, Umino M, Arita H. (2010). Prolonged gum chewing evokes activation of the ventral part of prefrontal cortex and suppression of nociceptive responses: involvement of the serotonergic system. J Med Dent Sci, 57, 35-43.
Lee IM, & Paffenbarger Jr. R.S. (1998). Life is sweet: candy consumption and longevity. British Medical Journal, 317, 9.
Martin et al. Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects. Journal of Proteome Research, 2009.
Meier, Brian P.; Moeller, Sara K.; Riemer-Peltz, Miles; Robinson, Michael D. Sweet taste preferences and experiences predict prosocial inferences, personalities, and behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, August, 2011. -doi: 10.1037/a0025253
- ^ http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/chocolate.aspx (my.clevelandclinic.org)
- ^ Sweet taste preferences and experiences predict prosocial inferences, personalities, and behaviors (psycnet.apa.org)