Proteins in Milk Found to Help Reduce Oral Burn from Spicy Food


According to a new study conducted by food scientists at Penn State University, it is not just the fat content in milk that helps alleviate the oral burn from spicy food. The study suggests that proteins also play a role in cooling the sensation of heat.

While it has long been believed that whole cow’s milk is the best remedy for soothing the burn caused by spicy food, this study challenges that assumption. The researchers found that full-fat milk is not more effective than fat-free milk in reducing the burning sensation.

The experiments conducted at Penn State’s Sensory Evaluation Center involved participants being exposed to a solution containing capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat in chili peppers. They were then asked to rinse their mouths with different types of milk, including conventional full-fat cow’s milk, ultra-filtered full-fat milk, almond milk, soy milk, and pea protein-enriched flax milk.

The results showed that both conventional and ultra-filtered full-fat milk were significantly better than water in reducing the burning sensation caused by capsaicin. Soy milk and dairy milk also outperformed water in reducing the sensation.

Lead researcher Justin Gaiser explained that the study suggests that fat is not the sole component responsible for alleviating the burn from spicy food. Protein content in the milk also plays a significant role.

The researchers also used a technique called ultrafiltration to increase the nutrient content, specifically protein and calcium, in the milk. This process involves filtering out certain components and then recombining the fluid to achieve higher nutrient levels. Milks produced using this technique are said to offer increased health benefits to consumers.

The findings of this study have implications for sensory testing labs, spicy food enthusiasts, and food manufacturers. It suggests that when formulating products, protein-capsaicin interactions should be taken into account.

In conclusion, this study highlights that proteins in milk, along with fat content, contribute to reducing the burning sensation caused by spicy food. The research challenges the belief that fat is solely responsible for soothing the burn and emphasizes the importance of considering protein content in milk when formulating food products.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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