Spicy food: Love it, or leave it?


Some of us just can’t pass up the opportunity to indulge in spicy food.

You probably already know it if you belong to this category. You’re the type of person who can’t wait for the chance to sample your way through the hot pepper scale. You probably crave the extra spice, no matter whether its breakfast, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinnertime, or a late-night snack. On the other hand, there are also sadly people who don’t give themselves the opportunity very often to heat things up on the hot scale. They’re the kind of people who pass up extra seasonings and spicy hot flavor in exchange for mild, non-heart racing peppers and spice. Everyone has their reasons, but if you’re a hot pepper lover, have you ever wondered what makes you prefer the hot stuff over others?

It’s likely as simple as preferences.

Everyone’s different and everyone’s sensory perceptions are different, too. The spiciness you’re willing to tolerate is based on your own individual taste receptors and a food’s heat index. Some people are more sensitive than others to, say, specific hot peppers. It may also have something to do with how early in life you were introduced to spicy food, as well as cultural traditions in your upbringing. Some researchers seem to think your food preferences may begin before you’re even born. Basically, they think what your mom ate while she was pregnant may have an influence on your tastes later in life.

Remember, your taste buds don’t actually taste a pepper’s heat.

Instead, you’re reacting to the sensation of heat. When you eat spicy food, it irritates the receptors in your tongue and mouth. When your brain thinks something is hot, it tries to cool you down. This explains why you may start sweating when you eat something spicy. Of course, if you’re a spicy food lover, it’s probably worth it!

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