Spicy foods can be delicious, but the burning sensation they leave in your mouth might make you reach for a glass of milk to soothe your tastebuds.
If you prefer nut-based milks like almond milk, you may wonder if it has the same cooling powers as dairy milk when it comes to taming spice.
In this post, we’ll take a look at whether almond milk can actually help neutralize or tone down the heat from spicy dishes.
What Happens When You Consume Spicy Food?
The compounds that heat hot peppers and certain spices are called capsaicinoids. The most common capsaicinoid is capsaicin, which binds to receptors in your mouth and throat that detect heat and pain, signaling to your brain that your mouth is on fire.
When you eat spicy foods, your body produces more saliva and releases mucus in your nose to flush away the irritating capsaicinoids. Your face may become flushed as your blood vessels dilate. You also start to sweat as your body tries to cool itself down. Heartburn can occur, too, as the spicy compounds make their way to your stomach.
Overall, consuming spicy foods sets off a burning inflammatory response in your mouth, throat, and beyond as your body sounds the alarm that you’ve ingested something hot and potentially dangerous. The good news is that this reaction is temporary and harmless for most people, even though it may be quite uncomfortable.
How Does Almond Milk Help With Spicy Food?
When seeking relief after eating something hot and spicy, many instinctively reach for a tall glass of milk. There’s a good reason behind this tactic.
Dairy milk contains casein that binds to capsaicinoids, helping wash them away so they don’t continue activating the pain receptors in your mouth. The cold temperature of milk also soothes the burning sensation.
Does almond milk work as well for taming spice? The answer is yes, to an extent. Almond milk does not contain casein like dairy milk does. However, it mimics dairy’s texture and consistency. Swishing and drinking almond milk can help dislodge some of the fiery capsaicinoids and momentarily cool your mouth.
Almond milk is not as effective as regular milk since it lacks the neutralizing casein protein. But it’s a decent option if you avoid dairy products.
The good fat content in almond milk may also help coat your mouth and throat, providing a brief protective barrier against the heat. Like cow’s milk, drink cold almond milk for maximum soothing power.
What Neutralizes Spicy Food Best?
If you want to eliminate the burn after eating spicy cuisine as quickly as possible, what food or drink will do the job best? Here are some of the top options:
- Dairy milk – The combination of fat, casein, and cold temperature makes dairy milk very effective for putting out spice-induced fire. Whole milk works better than skim.
- Yogurt – Just like milk, yogurt contains casein. Its cool temperature and thick texture also help coat and soothe an irritated mouth.
- Bread – Starchy bread absorbs oils and juices that contain irritating capsaicinoids. The bread’s thicker consistency helps scrape them away.
- Rice – Like bread, rice is an absorbent edible sponge to soak up fiery oils and clear your palate.
- Sugar – Sugary foods and drinks like chocolate and sodas can mask the spice sensation thanks to an overload of sweet flavor.
- Fats – Foods containing healthy fats like avocado, nut butter, and olive oil create a protective coating over tastebud receptors.
- Acidic foods – Sour ingredients like lemon juice and vinegar break down capsaicinoids faster than other foods.
- Salt – A salty snack like pretzels or chips may counteract spiciness thanks to salt’s natural cleansing abilities.
- Alcohol – Beer, wine, and liquor will initially intensify burn but provide numbing relief as you continue drinking.
10 Best Foods for Reducing Spiciness
Looking for go-to options to keep on hand before biting into something extra hot and fiery? Arm yourself with these 10 foods and beverages that are proven to put out the flames:
1. Almond Milk
While not as powerful as dairy, almond milk can temporarily cool and soothe your mouth. Drink it straight up or add it to a protein shake.
2. Lemon Juice
A few squirts of tangy lemon juice go a long way toward neutralizing heat and breaking down capsaicinoids. Use straight or dilute in water.
Creamy, cooling yogurt contains casein to bind to spicy oils. Top with fruit for added soothing sweetness.
4. Coconut Milk
The natural fats in coconut milk coat your mouth for relief. Drink it cold or add to a smoothie.
This tropical fruit is naturally sweet with a mouth-coating texture. The seeds add extra flavor, too.
Watermelon is over 90% water, making it incredibly hydrating. The juicy sweetness can override spiciness.
Crunchy celery is thick and fibrous, helping remove irritants. Plus it contains cooling water.
Like celery, raw carrots have a fibrous texture to scrub away oils. They also supply cooling fluids.
9. Ice Cream
Creamy ice cream soothes inflamed tastebuds and distracts with sweetness. Stick to milk-based varieties.
Dried seaweed contains natural gels that coat and protect the mouth. Rehydrate in water before eating.
Fresh parsley acts as a palate cleanser, refreshing your mouth with its light, herbaceous flavor.
Nuts like peanuts and almonds are satisfied with their fats while boosting saliva to dilute spice.
Does Water Reduce Spiciness?
You might assume that drinking water would relieve the stinging heat from spicy food. But water is ineffective in cooling and soothing a mouth set on fire. Water spreads around capsaicinoids rather than neutralizing them.
It may even intensify the burn by moving the irritants to new areas in your mouth and throat. While water doesn’t diminish spiciness, it still helps for other reasons. Taking a few big gulps can wash away food particles and give your tongue a reset.
Staying hydrated also keeps your mucous membranes moist, which protects against irritation. So water is still better than nothing. But for real heat relief, reach for dairy, bread, sugar, acid, or oil instead of plain H2O.
Does Drinking Milk Provide Relief from Spicy Foods?
Many people instinctively reach for a comforting glass of milk with every bite of mouth-burning food. You’ve probably heard claims that drinking milk can “soothe” or “cool” your mouth from the fiery sensations caused by spices. But is this scientifically proven?
The answer is yes – milk can provide temporary relief when dealing with oral inflammation from spicy capsaicinoids.
Here’s a look at the scientific reasons why it works:
Casein Protein in Milk Blocks Capsaicin Receptors
Cow’s milk contains casein proteins, which can bind to the TRPV1 receptors that capsaicin attaches to. Essentially, casein acts like a capsaicin sponge, physically blocking the receptors and preventing capsaicin from continuing to activate them. With less capsaicin binding, the sensations of heat are quickly reduced.
Cold Milk Temperature Also Helps
In addition to casein, the cold temperature of milk from the fridge also helps relieve some of the burning feeling. The chilling cold soothes the inflamed tissue and distracts your pain receptors.
Fats in Milk Help Wash Away Capsaicinoids
The fats in milk help wash away the oily capsaicin compounds from your mouth. Since capsaicinoids are lipophilic (attracted to grease), the fatty lipids in milk bind to the capsaicinoids. This lets them wash away when you drink, reducing contact with your taste receptors.
Soothing and Mild Flavors Counteract Heat
Finally, milk has a sweet, creamy, and soothing flavor. This provides a pleasant counterbalance to the fiery heat of spicy dishes. Much like sugar balancing out bitterness in coffee, the comforting familiarity of milk calms your inflamed mouth.
So, in summary, milk provides temporary relief by:
- Physically blocking pain receptors using casein
- Soothe inflamed tissue with a cold temperature
- Washing capsaicinoids away with fat
- Countering heat with soothing, cooling flavors
While not a cure, a nice cold glass of milk can take the edge off your mouth’s reaction to spicy heat.
Tips to Relieve Spicy Food Burn with Almond Milk
If you don’t consume cow’s dairy and want to rely on almond milk to help with spicy food discomfort, there are a few tips that can boost its efficacy:
- Chill it – Serve your almond milk straight from the refrigerator or add ice to help cool inflamed tissue.
- Flavor it – Mix in honey, maple syrup, vanilla, or chocolate to add soothing flavors.
- Swish vigorously – Swish larger gulps in your mouth like a mouthwash to help wash away oils.
- Have some before – Sipping it proactively before spicy dishes may help slightly.
- Pair with yogurt – Getting some dairy with a yogurt side dish provides casein.
- Use it in smoothies – Blending almond milk with bananas and berries into a cold smoothie can provide moderate relief.
While almond milk and cow’s milk may never relieve spicy food burn, these tips can help amplify its effects to provide moderate cooling comfort.
11 Foods That Help with Spicy Food
Lactose is an enzyme that breaks down milk sugar (lactose). It’s found in the small intestine, where it helps digest food. However, when you have a stomach virus or are lactose intolerant, these enzymes aren’t working as well, and dairy proteins may not be broken down entirely because of the decrease in lactase. This can cause stomach upset, bloating, and gas.
soy milk has about 137 milligrams of calcium per cup, while almond milk has around 100 milligrams per cup. In addition, both are fortified with vitamin D and many other vitamins that may reduce symptoms from spicy foods.
Almond milk also has around 100 milligrams per cup of calcium, and like soy, it is fortified with vitamin D to reduce symptoms from spicy foods. It may also help because almonds are a rich source of magnesium that can relax the muscles in your stomach.
Rice is an excellent source of magnesium to help combat stomach cramps. It’s also rich in fibre, which can help with bloating and gas. Just make sure you cook it correctly to reduce the chance for bacteria growth on the food.
Bananas are high in pectin, which can provide relief from spicy food. They also have a lot of potassium and vitamin C to help put out the fire in your mouth.
Coconut water is pure H20 with some electrolytes added for flavour. It’s been proven that it helps with dehydration after workouts! So it may be a healthier option to replace the Gatorade.
Ginger is often used in Indian dishes, and for a good reason! It’s an anti-inflammatory that can help with upset stomachs and soothe your throat. Plus, it tastes great in tea as well, maybe even better than honey or sugar?
Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. This is also an excellent vegetable to pair with spicy foods since it can help cut down on inflammation in your mouth!
Apple cider vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar has been traditionally used for its ability to fight colds and the flu, and a wide variety of other ailments. It’s also been shown to help reduce stomach acidity, which can be especially helpful for eating spicy foods!
Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on Earth. Not only does it have tons of fiber, but it also has 11 different types of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Coconut milk is a great dairy substitute for those who can’t tolerate it and is also full of lauric acid, which has been shown to reduce inflammation in your mouth (and other places) after eating spicy foods!
Do milk alternatives help with spice?
Milk alternatives are a hot topic in the world of nutrition. With so many different options, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you and your lifestyle. But if you’re looking for something that will help with spice tolerance, we’ve got an answer!
Does milk help with spicy food stomach?
Many people are wondering whether or not milk is an effective method for mild spiciness from their food. The answer may surprise you! Experts have found that milk intensifies spicy flavors, which makes it less appealing as a remedy.
However, some studies show that it can help with heartburn symptoms caused by consuming too much spicy food. If you’re experiencing these symptoms and want an easy fix, try drinking lots of water instead.
One thing you should never do after eating spicy foods is drink alcohol! Doing so will only worsen your heartburn and other uncomfortable side effects of being overly full-on spicy foods.
Milk and spicy food diarrhoea?
You may have heard that eating dairy products can trigger diarrhea, but what about spicy food? “Capsaicin is a chemical found in chili peppers that have been shown to cause stomach cramps and diarrhea,” says Dr. David Nunez, Gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital.
In the most recent study on this issue, researchers from Yale University looked at whether people are more likely to get these side effects.
When they consume dairy with red meat or just dairy alone, the findings suggest that it does not matter if you’re pairing your milk with other foods like eggs or bread capsaicin will still make you visit the toilet sooner rather than later.
So with this information in mind, perhaps it’s best to steer clear of hot sauce if you’ve got any milk options.
The Bottom Line
When your tastebuds are burning up from tongue-scorching spices, you want fast relief. While almond milk can temporarily cool your mouth and offer mild soothing due to its texture, fat, and hydration, it lacks the powerful spice-taming abilities of dairy milk.
Casein, the protein found in animal milk, effectively binds to fiery capsaicinoids like capsaicin and washes them away. So, traditional milk is your best bet for immediate relief after consuming something really hot. But almond milk still beats water or nothing at all!
For an extra soothing experience, drink ice cold or blend it into a shake. With the variety of delicious milk substitutes available today, like almond, coconut, oat, and soy, there’s no reason to deny your tastebuds relief – even if you skip the dairy.
What type of milk helps with spicy food?
Some people believe drinking milk can help to soothe the heat and spiciness of foods. This is because milk contains a protein called casein that binds to the capsaicin molecules in spicy foods and helps to neutralize their effects.
Almond milk, in particular, has become popular as a non-dairy alternative that can help mitigate the heat of spicy dishes. However, the effectiveness of milk or almond milk in reducing the heat of spicy food can vary from person to person, and ultimately it depends on individual taste and preference.
What can neutralize spicy food?
There are several things you can try to neutralize the spiciness of food:
DAIRY PRODUCTS: Drinking milk or consuming dairy products like yoghurt, cheese, or sour cream can help neutralize spicy food’s heat. This is because dairy contains a protein called casein that can bind to the capsaicin in spicy food and remove it from your mouth.
STARCHY FOODS: Starchy foods like rice, bread, or potatoes can help absorb spicy food’s heat and reduce its intensity.
CITRUS FRUITS: Squeezing lemon or lime juice over spicy food can help to counteract the heat and provide a refreshing flavour.
SUGAR: Adding a small amount of sugar or honey to spicy food can help balance the heat and provide a sweet taste.
ALCOHOL: Consuming alcoholic beverages like beer or wine can help to numb the taste buds and reduce the sensation of spiciness.
WATER: Drinking water can help to cool down your mouth and wash away some of the heat, but it may not provide long-lasting relief.
Does milk help digest spicy food?
While milk may not necessarily aid in the digestion of spicy food, it can help to neutralize the heat and soothe any discomfort in the mouth and throat.
As mentioned earlier, milk contains a protein called casein that can bind to the capsaicin molecules in spicy foods and remove them from the mouth. This can help to reduce the burning sensation and allow you to enjoy the flavour of the food without being overwhelmed by the spiciness.
However, it’s worth noting that some people may experience digestive issues after consuming spicy food, such as heartburn, indigestion, or upset stomach. In these cases, it may be helpful to take antacids or other digestive aids to help alleviate any discomfort.
Will almond milk help jalapeno burn?
Almond milk can potentially help to soothe the burning sensation caused by jalapeno peppers or other spicy foods. This is because almond milk contains a compound called casein, which can help to neutralize the capsaicin that causes the burning sensation. Capsaicin is the active compound in jalapeno peppers and other spicy foods that triggers the heat receptors in your mouth and causes a burning sensation.
While there is no guarantee that almond milk will eliminate the burning sensation, it may provide some relief and help to make the experience more tolerable. Other dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese, are also commonly used to alleviate the heat of spicy foods. It’s important to note that the effectiveness of almond milk in reducing the heat of jalapenos can vary from person to person and may depend on individual taste preferences.