Why Does Milk Help With Spicy Food?

  • Article
  • 1 min read February 12, 2018

A hot social media trend has celebs and the rest of us trying chili peppers to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Dubbed the #ALSPepperChallenge, this cause has tasters begging for comfort.

And milk could be a solution when eating spicy foods — literally.

That’s because milk helps your mouth handle capsaicin, an oily chemical compound in chili peppers. Capsaicin binds to a receptor in the tongue and creates a burning sensation.

Why Does Milk Help with Spicy Food and Not Water?

Because oil and water don’t mix, a tall glass of H2O does nothing to ease the sting of, say, jalapeno peppers. In fact, it might just spread the heat around your mouth.

Casein protein found in milk can also bind to the capsaicin and wash it away. Since capsaicin is fat-soluble, rinsing with milk fat helps ease the burn. That is why milk neutralizes spicy food and water doesn't. Technique counts too: Holding milk in the mouth for a long time and then swallowing immediately maximizes milk’s soothing effect

If you're looking for a dairy-licious treat to balance the heat, try whipping up these tasty horchata milkshakes or this peanut butter banana shake. Ah, sweet relief!