Are some people genetically programmed to be happier than others, or can environmental factors such as diet play a role?
Happiness researchers believe both are true. In fact, according to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, it’s estimated that your genes account for just 40-50 percent of your happiness level; the rest depends on life choices and circumstances.[i] And, as a newly published study indicates, consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids is one choice you can make to create a happier you.*[ii]
The study, which was published in the January issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, tested the fasting omega-3 blood levels of over 2,000 Japanese men and women. (The average Japanese person consumes 129.3 pounds of seafood per year — more than double the 53.3 pounds eaten by the average American.)[iii]
The results? About 12.5 percent of the participants scored low on a standard scale of mood. These folks also had lower blood levels of omega-3s, averaging 264 micrograms (mcg) per milliliter (ml), compared to the happier folks, who averaged 276 mcg per ml.* Importantly, this correlation held only for omega-3 fatty acids — which are found in cold-water fatty fish (such as anchovies, sardines, mackerel, cod, tuna, and salmon), flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts — not omega-6 fatty acids, which are commonly found in vegetable oils.
As an interesting side note, the participants who experienced low mood were also more likely to: be unmarried, have less education, and have prior health issues. So the takeaway is: If you want to improve your happiness level, get hitched, get a degree, and consume a diet high in omega-3s!
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
[i] Rubin G. Happiness myth #2 — Nothing changes a person’s happiness much. GretchenRubin.com. March 3, 2009. http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2009/03/happiness-myth-2-nothing-changes-a-persons-happiness-level-much/
[ii] Horikawa C, et al. Br J Nutr. 2016 Feb;115(4):672-80.
[iii] Loke M, et al. An overview of seafood consumption and supply sources: Hawai´i versus U.S. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawai´i at Mānoa, Economic Issues. March 2012. http://www.fpir.noaa.gov/SFD/pdfs/seafood/EI-22.pdf