Eat, drink and be merry!

Happiness is important to our overall health, so wouldn't it be amazing if "being merry" helped you lose weight? How many calories could we burn by laughing our way through the day?

A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Obesity broke down calories expended from genuine laughter. Maciej S. Buchowski and others from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., selected 31 males and 63 females between the ages of 18 and 34 to partake in the laughter. For 90 minutes, pairs of participants viewed either boring video clips or clips meant to induce laughter.

When study subjects laughed, their heart rates (thus, calorie burning) increased. Those who really had a jolly time (laughing for 20 seconds at a stretch) increased their heart rates by 17 percent.

So, if 15 minutes of laughter burns anywhere from 10 to 40 calories, is this a good way to lose weight?

Let's try the math.

If an average of 30 calories are burned during 15 solid minutes of laughter, you could burn off ... a half-cup of papaya, a medium tomato or a quarter-cup of low-fat paneer.

Worth it? It's not a cannoli, but calories burned are calories burned. Plus, the effects of a good belly laugh outweigh any effects on belly fat.