lipstick mouth biting a straight red chili pepper

Best ways to neutralize spicy food

While I’m a big spicy food fanatic, there are times when even I overdo it. Capsaicin, the main spicy ingredient that we are familiar with, activates nerve endings in the mouth and throat that are responsible for the sensation of heat or burning. The more capsaicin a food contains, the spicier it is!

If you’ve eaten something a bit too spicy and are looking to ease the pain, or if you’ve cooked something and know it’s too hot for your guests, there are plenty of easy ways to neutralize the heat.

How to kill the heat if you ate something too spicy

We’ve all bitten into something so spicy we have regrets at some point or another. Here are a few tips and ways to reduce the spiciness in your mouth if you’ve eaten something all too hot.

Cool water isn’t the best option

Cold water is what we’re naturally inclined to reach for when we have a spicy tongue. While it can help to flush out the spicy compounds in your mouth and throat and provide some relief, it may not be the most effective option for reducing the spiciness, as it does not contain any ingredients that specifically neutralize the spicy compounds.

What about HOT water?

It may seem counterintuitive, but many people believe drinking HOT water can help reduce the spiciness in your mouth. Some people believe that the heat from the hot water can help to neutralize the spicy compounds in the mouth and throat, providing some relief from the spiciness. Similar to the mechanisms of spiciness, the idea is that the heat of the water triggers a pain reaction in your body, and your body reacts by creating a natural pain-relieving effect.

However, it is worth noting that there is limited scientific evidence to support this claim. While hot water may provide a temporary sensation of warmth or heat, it is unlikely to neutralize the spicy compounds in the mouth or throat significantly.

Dairy and milk

Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products can help to neutralize the spiciness of food due to the proteins it contains. These proteins, known as caseins, can bind to the spicy compounds in the mouth and help to wash them away. Additionally, the fat in milk can help to coat the mouth and provide a soothing sensation.

Something acidic like lemon juice

Lemon juice can help to reduce the spiciness of food due to its acidic nature. The acid in lemon juice can help to neutralize the spicy compounds in the mouth, providing some relief from the spiciness.

When you eat something spicy, the spicy compounds can irritate the mouth and throat, leading to the sensation of heat or burning. The acid in lemon juice can help to neutralize these compounds and provide some relief.

Starches like bread and rice

Starchy foods, such as rice or pasta, can help to reduce the spiciness of food by absorbing some of the capsaicin irritating the mouth, which helps reduce the pain and spiciness associated.

How to reduce the spiciness of a dish you’re cooking

It can be difficult to get the heat in a recipe just right, especially since the spiciness of peppers can vary so much. One day a habanero will barely make your curry tingle, and the next, it’s blowing out your taste buds. Here are a few tips for reducing the heat in any dish you’re cooking.

Add something sweet:

Adding a touch of sweetness to a dish can help balance the heat of spicy food. You can try adding a sweet condiment like honey or jam or incorporating sweet ingredients like fruit or sugar into the dish.

Add something acidic:

Acidic ingredients like lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or tomatoes can help cut through spicy food’s heat. You can try adding a splash of lemon juice to your dish or incorporating tomatoes or vinegar into the recipe.

Add dairy:

Dairy products like milk, yogurt, or sour cream can help to cool down the mouth and reduce the spiciness of the food. You can try adding a dollop of sour cream or yogurt to your dish or incorporating milk into a sauce or soup to help balance the heat.

Add a starch:

Starchy ingredients like rice, pasta, or bread can help absorb some of a dish’s spiciness. You can try serving your spicy dish over a bed of rice or pasta or serving it with a slice of bread on the side.

Dilute the dish:

If you find a dish too spicy, you can try diluting it with a liquid like broth, water, or coconut milk. This can help reduce the dish’s overall concentration of spicy flavors.

There is no scientific measure of the effectiveness of any of these home remedies for spiciness, so it will be up to you to determine what works best for you.

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