By Carolyn Gregoire
If you want to figure out how "alpha" your man is, try taking him out for something spicy. According to a new French study, men who prefer hotter foods tend to have higher testosterone levels than man who prefer mild foods.
The research, recently published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, polled 114 men aged 18 to 44 on their spice preferences. The men were also served a dish of mashed potatoes, and allowed to put as much hot sauce or salt as they liked on it.
The University of Grenoble researchers found that men with higher testosterone levels (as tested by their saliva) both indicated a greater preference for hot sauce, and used more of it to season the potato. The amount of salt used, however, had no relation to testosterone levels.
A man's preference for capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that makes them spicy, has been previously linked to dominance behaviors, aggression and risk-taking, the researchers note.
However, the direction of causality is unclear -- the preference for spicy tastes could be driven by either physiology or environmental factors. It's also likely to vary culturally. A Frenchman, for instance, may have a different approach to spicy foods than men from southeast Asia or Mexico, for instance, who likely grew up eating spicy foods and may have built up a tolerance. Previous research has shown that the more people are exposed to capsaicin, the more favorably they tend to rate its taste.
"The underlying cause of the use of spice by individuals with high testosterone levels should be further analyzed, as it might be the result of learned or innate preferences," the researchers conclude.
Previous research has linked high testosterone levels with a heightened sex drive, a preference for the color red and risky behavior.
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