Milk is best drink to reduce burn of chili peppers

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chicken wings

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — People who order their Buffalo wings especially spicy and sometimes find them to be too “hot,” should choose milk to reduce the burn, according to Penn State researchers.

The research originated as an effort by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences to identify a beverage to clear the palates of participants in tasting studies involving capsaicin.

An extract from chili peppers, capsaicin is considered an irritant, because it causes warming and burning sensations.

Gathering data

While folklore exists on the ability of specific beverages to mitigate capsaicin burn, quantitative data to support these claims are lacking.

The researchers looked at five beverages and involved 72 people, 42 women and 30 men.

Participants drank spicy Bloody Mary mix containing capsaicin. Immediately after swallowing, they rated the initial burn.

Then, in subsequent separate trials, they drank purified water, cola, cherry-flavored Kool-Aid, seltzer water, non-alcoholic beer, skim milk and whole milk. Participants continued to rate perceived burn every 10 seconds for two minutes.

All beverages significantly reduced the burn of the mix, but the largest reductions in burn were observed for whole milk, skim milk and Kool-Aid.

More work is needed to determine how these beverages reduce burn.

Researchers suspect it is related to how capsaicin reacts in the presence of fat, protein and sugar.

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