A native of South & Central America, as well as the Caribbean, habaneros are among the hottest chili peppers there are. An ordinary habanero typically ranks between 100,000 & 350,000 on the Scoville scale of spiciness; for comparison, a typical jalapeno ranks at 2,500 to 5,000. Rich in Capsaicin As one of the hottest chili peppers, habaneros have a high capsaicin content. A phytonutrient, capsaicin is a natural anti-inflammatory that...
HEALTHY & FUN FRUITY FACTS
A native of South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, habaneros are among the hottest chili peppers there are. An ordinary habanero typically ranks between 100,000 and 350,000 on the Scoville scale of spiciness; for comparison, a typical jalapeno ranks at 2,500 to 5,000.
Rich in Capsaicin As one of the hottest chili peppers, habaneros have a high capsaicin content. A phytonutrient, capsaicin is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help treat arthritis and headaches. Capsaicin works as an anti-inflammatory by reducing your body's production of Substance P, which is what causes the swelling and pain that occurs alongside inflammation. A study published in "Cell Signal" in 2003 confirmed that the capsaicin from hot peppers showed anti-inflammatory properties. The capsaicin in habanero peppers may also be able to block the activity of nuclear transcription factors which can trigger inflammatory reactions that may lead to premature aging and cancer. Research shows that people who regularly eat spicy foods – that is, foods rich in capsaicin – live longer than those who don't, and they're less likely to die from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
Important Nutrients to Note A 4.5-gram serving of habanero peppers has 15 calories and no fat. A single serving of habaneros also has 3 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of carbohydrates. The same size serving also has 1 gram of dietary fiber. You can rest easy knowing that adding habaneros to a dish for extra flavor will not greatly increase the sodium, fat, or calorie content.
Vitamins and Minerals A single serving of habaneros has 128 milligrams of potassium, which is a relatively high amount for such a small serving size. According to "The Herb Society of America's Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking with Herb," habaneros are also high in vitamin C. Green habaneros, unripe peppers, have a higher vitamin C content than their red and orange counterparts. A single habanero pepper contains more than 100% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. The same pepper also contains a bit of vitamin A – 9% of your recommended intake – plus 4% of your recommended potassium intake, 3% of your recommended iron intake, and a scant 1% of your recommended daily calcium intake.
May Help Prevent Diabetes A diet rich in habanero peppers may help regulate insulin levels, especially in people who are already overweight. A study published in 2006 in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" concluded that capsaicin reduced the likelihood of insulin spikes following a meal. Scientists concluded that regular capsaicin consumption could help diabetics control their insulin levels. Since post-meal insulin spikes often lead to Type 2 diabetes, the researchers concluded that regularly eating chili peppers may decrease diabetes risk. Scientists also found that meals containing capsaicin increased fat oxidation, which may indicate capsaicin's ability to regulate obesity. However, further study on human subjects is needed.
Decreased Cancer Risk The capsaicin in habaneros may also prevent cancer. In the laboratory, scientists have demonstrated that capsaicin can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells, and may protect cells from becoming cancerous. In addition, habaneros contain significant amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A, both of which act as antioxidants, compounds that may decrease the risk of cancer by inhibiting the DNA-damaging effects of free radicals. Each half-cup serving of habanero peppers provides 300% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and 20% of the RDA of vitamin A.
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong report that laboratory hamsters fed a high-cholesterol diet had higher LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels and more cholesterol-related arterial plaques than hamsters who were fed the same diet, but supplemented with capsaicin. The scientists hypothesized that eating chili peppers such as habaneros may lower cholesterol and decrease cardiovascular disease risk, but warned that additional studies and clinical trials were necessary.