Food-YE-Food
Sriracha chili sauce bottles are produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, Calif.  Nick Ut—AP

Men Who Love Spicy Food Have More Testosterone

Dec 15, 2014

Men with higher levels of testosterone—the hormone often associated with risk-taking behavior and heightened sex drive in men—tend to love spicy food, according to a French study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

In the study, titled "Some Like it Hot" and conducted by researchers from the University of Grenoble-Alpes in France, 114 men ages 18 to 44 sat down to a meal of mashed potatoes with spicy pepper sauce and salt. Researchers saw a clear correlation between higher hot sauce usage and higher levels of testosterone levels found in the saliva of the men. In other words, men with greater testosterone levels tended to douse their food with more hot sauce.

How much capsaicin—the chili pepper compound that makes them spicy—a man likes has been linked to social dominance, aggression and "daring behaviors," the study authors write. “Conversely, low testosterone levels have been associated with lethargy or depressive mood.”

Though the hot sauce correlation was clear, the mechanism behind it is still unknown. “A wide range of factors, including genetic, physiological, psychological and social forces, influence the liking and consumption of capsaicin-containing food," the study authors write.

Photos: An Inside Look at a Sriracha Factory

Chilies are ground in a mixing machine.
Jalapeno peppers, grown in nearby Ventura County, are crushed inside the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, Calif.Peter Bohler for TIME
Chilies are ground in a mixing machine.
Lids for Sriracha bottles flow into a large container.
The bottles for Sriracha are made and printed on site. Here, new bottles come off the conveyer belt.
A forklift moves barrels of chili around the warehouse where they are stored until needed for processing into Sriracha, Chili Garlic and Sambal Olek—ground chilis with no added ingredients.
Uncapped barrels of chili are pumped into the mixing room.
Sugar and powdered garlic are added to the mixture, which is ground again into Sriracha.
Bottles of Sriracha being filled. When CEO and founder David Tran started making chili sauce in Vietnam, he and his family hand-filled bottles with spoons.
Filled and capped bottles of Sriracha come off the assembly line and are organized for boxing.
A machine boxes Sriracha for shipping.
A worker adds steel supports to a pallet of barrels. The supports allow Huy Fong to stack the barrels on top of each other without the weight of the chili crushing the barrels.
Jalapeno peppers, grown in nearby Ventura County, are crushed inside the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, Calif.
Peter Bohler for TIME
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