Like Spicy Food? --- Here Is What It Says
About You

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May 5, 2015
By Michael P. Delhomme, Contributing Columnist

If you are one of those guys who can't get enough of spicy food,
scientists have started to take an interest in you. Why do some people
like spicy food and others can't take it. Ever wonder why some us
turned on by jalapenos and chili and others of us avoid it like the
plague?  Scientists have begun to answer the question –what does it
say about you if you like spicy food?

First the stats. Since 2000, the market for hot sauce has exploded
150% in the US. Now, hot sauce outsells mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup
and BBQ sauce combined. Some of that growth is due to rising
numbers of people from cultures with traditionally spicy food (Asia and
Latin cultures) but much of that explosion is due to an increasing love
of spicy food in the general public.

What Makes it Hot, Hot, Hot?

All spicy food is “hot” because of capsaicin, an ingredient in peppers.
We have looked at the
Top 5 hottest peppers before, and found that,
when it comes to “hot”, jalapeno is not even close to being the world

The hottest pepper is the world according to the Guinness Book of
World Records is currently the Carolina reaper, which measures 2.2
million Scoville heat units, making it about 2000 times hotter than

We looked at current medical and research studies to see what spicy
food says about you. Here is what we found:

You Have Higher Testosterone

Men who like spicy food tend to have higher testosterone levels. In a
December 2014 study led by Dr. Laurent Begue from the University of
Grenoble, France, scientists fed  114 fed men a meal of mashed
potatoes and asked to season the potatoes as they wished with hot
sauce and salt before they evaluated the meal in terms of spiciness. The
scientists then took saliva tests to measure the participants'

What they discovered is that there was a strong correlation between
testosterone levels and the mount of hot sauce a man preferred.  Men
with the highest testosterone levels preferred the most hot sauce and
men with the lowest testosterone levels preferred the smallest amount
of hot sauce or none at all.

You Are Motivated By Reward Not Punishment

Many scientists divide people into personality groups based on whether
they are sensitive to reward or sensitive to punishment. These
scientists believe that our brains wiring determines our personalities.
People who are “sensitive to reward” tend to be extroverts, tend to
more easily approach others and tend not to be neurotic.

On the other hand, people who are “sensitive to punishment” tend to
avoid events, rather move toward events, they tend to be more afraid
in general, and they tend to be neurotic.

This type of research began with Dr. Hans Eyesenk of King's College in
London and Dr. Jeffrey Alan Gray of Oxford.

Now scientists from Pennsylvania State University's Sensory Evaluation
Center  have applied these personality tests to preferences for spicy
food. What they have found in a 2013 study  is that people who like
spicy food tend to be ...wait for  it... out-going reward-seekers.  

Spicy food lovers are extroverts, unafraid,  and aroused not by fear but
by potential reward.  They are the Tiger Woods, Tom Bradys or Floyd
Mayweathers of the world --- they see the $100 million check at the
end of the match, not the punishment their bodies will have to endure
to earn that check. Or they are the astronauts who fixate on that once-
in-a-lifetime view of the Earth as they look back from the space capsule
rather than fixating on the terrifying launch into space.

Or, Maybe You Just Come from a Culture That Likes Spicy Food

Some scientists disagree with the personality theory of spicy food
preferences. Their research has found that people's preferences for
spicy food is largely determined by their life experience, be it cultural or
otherwise. If Mom fed you hot spicy food, you will ten dto like it for the
rest of your life they say. The principal advocate of this view is Dr. M.J.
Ludy of Purdue University who conducted a study of 13 regular eaters
of spicy food versus 12 regular eaters of non-spicy food.  Dr. Ludy
found no personality differences between spicy food eaters and those
hwo prefer blander food.

All in all, we have to say that the personality research is more
convincing. The Purdue study is small –only 25 people  while the
research supporting the theory that your personality  determines your
preference for spicy foods is much more extensive and hails from
universities in several countries around the world.

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Men who like spicy food have higher
testosterone. Below, theTrinidad
scorpion pepper is one of the hottest in
the world.