French scientists claim high testosterone linked to love of spicy food

After carrying out experiments with 114 men and some red hot chili sauce French scientists have concluded there is a clear link between testosterone levels and an appetite for all things hot and spicy.

French scientists claim high testosterone linked to love of spicy food
The 'manlier' you are the more spice you'll add to your food. Photo: Shutterstock

Men with high testosterone are said to have a higher sex drive, take more risks and apparently also love to indulge in spicy food.

The French study carried out by scientists at the University of Grenoble titled “Some like it hot” concluded that the higher a man's testosterone level is the more spice he adds to his food.

“We thought it'd be interesting to relate risk-taking behaviour to an unexplored field like tasting food,” Laurent Bègue, one of the authors of the paper, told The Local.

In the experiment, the researchers measured the testosterone levels of 114 men aged between 18 and 44. While on their own, the men were presented with a potato mash they had to season to their taste with chili sauce and salt before rating the spiciness of the dish.

No correlation could be established between testosterone and salt, but it was found that the men with higher testosterone levels added more spicy sauce to the mash than those with lower levels. 

Eating spicy food is seen as a form of risk-taking, a characteristic attributed to men with higher testosterone levels.

“When you have high testosterone levels you're more likely to look for stimulation and excitement. There's also this culture of showing off among men with high testosterone,” Bègue said.

While it can't be said for sure whether the correlation is a physiological or psychological phenomenon, Bègue says that the men might have made their food even hotter if they hadn't been by themselves.

“It's just a speculation, of course, but I think the phenomenon would have been stronger if the men had been watched by another man, or even worse, a woman,” he said.

However, before you start seasoning your meals with extra chili sauce, keep in mind that boosting testosterone by eating spicy food has only been shown to work in rodents so far.

The paper will appear in the February 2015 edition of the journal “Physiology and Behaviour”.

By Simone Flückiger

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