I don't mean to suggest that I have supernatural powers, but somehow, subconsciously, I've always known that there was an inextricable link between testosterone levels and preference for spicy foods. When I'm on a date and he avoids anything on the menu with hot pepper symbols next to it, it's a turn-off. If we're at any kind of Asian restaurant (especially Thai or Vietnamese) and he doesn't ask for Sriracha, we're done. Eats a taco without Cholula? Out.
A slight exaggeration? Maybe, but I've always been looking for a reason for this particular trait I so crave in a mate — other than my own preference for tear-inducing chow. And now, I may have found some scientific backing. According to a French study by University of Grenoble Alpes published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, men with higher levels of testosterone — the hormone often associated with sexual and behavioral risk-taking — tend to love spicy food.
For the study, researchers served 114 men between the ages 18 and 44 each a plate of mashed potatoes, mini bottles of Tabasco, and some salt packets, then let the guys spice their own food. Researchers saw a clear correlation between more hot sauce usage and higher levels of testosterone found in the men's saliva.
In other words, men with more testosterone doused their spuds more liberally with hot sauce.
Why this correlation exists is still unclear, but the study authors say that how much capsaicin — the compound in chili peppers that makes them spicy — a man likes has been linked to social dominance, aggression, and daring behaviors. "Conversely, low testosterone levels have been associated with lethargy or depressive mood," they write.
The authors believe that a wide range of factors, "including genetic, physiological, psychological and social forces" influence the preference for tongue-scorching sustenance. It's their hope that this finding helps them eventually discover whether or not exposure to capsaicin actually raises testosterone levels in humans.
Either way, I still stick to my aforementioned hypothesis — that I can detect the virility in a potential partner by his affinity for hot sauce. It may be a test I give to gauge how brave they are, but all I know is that I'd take a habanero aficionado over a sky diver any day.
What do you think of the fiery findings?