Men who like spicy food are actually more alpha

Pour it on, big man.
Pour it on, big man.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Alpha males tend to thrive in cutthroat offices—and restaurants that douse their food in hot sauce.

A study by researchers from the University of Grenoble found that men who preferred spicier foods also tended to have higher testosterone levels than men with milder tastes. In the study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, 114 men from age 18 to 44 were polled on whether or not they liked spicy foods, and were later served a dish of mashed potatoes which they were allowed to season with however much hot sauce and salt they wanted.

The researchers found that men with higher testosterone levels tended to use more hot sauce and indicated a greater preference for it. There was no relationship between testosterone and the amount of salt used. High testosterone levels in men have long been linked to dominant and competitive traits.

It’s hard to draw conclusions about the hot sauce-testosterone connection. The link could be biological, if spicy food raises testosterone levels. A 2013 study found that mice exposed to capsaicin, the chemical that makes food hot, had higher testosterone levels than a control group. Or it could be environmental. In cultures that associate spicy foods with masculinity, alpha males might feel pressure to go heavy on hot sauce. Another possible explanation is the condiment’s color: A 2013 study found that men who preferred red, the color of the sauce used in this study, tended to have higher testosterone than those who liked blue.