Fun fact: Did you know that humans are the only species in the animal kingdom who enjoy eating spicy foods?
Whether your Friday night curry is non-negotiable or you find yourself adding chilli sauce to just about everything, you’ll be pleased to know there could be benefits for the some that like it hot. We spoke to food scientist and former medical doctor Dr Stuart Farrimond about what exactly these could be. Is it worth spicing up our lives if we’re not already chilli fans? Let’s look at the science:
1. It’s great if your taste buds are dud
Unfortunately, our sense of taste becomes duller in later years.
“Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (‘savoury’ taste) each diminish – but these basic tastes drop off in differing amounts. Saltiness and umami – the brothy taste of mushrooms and cured meats – take the most dramatic nose dive, making savoury foods taste far blander and less enjoyable. Men suffer the worst and a man aged over 60 needs three times as much salt as a twenty-year-old to taste the same saltiness – no wonder Grandad is often heavy-handed with the salt shaker!” reveals Dr Farrimond.
But whatever your age, you’ll be able to notice the effects of chilli livening up a meal – and it’s a healthier option that salt.