Habaneros are small Mexican chilies that are best known for their extra-hot spiciness. They are most often used in salsas and as a source of heat for hot sauces. Along with their heat, the flavor profile of these peppers includes fruitiness and mild floral notes. They are certainly one of the most popular chilies around, but how healthy are these hot peppers? Habaneros, in fact, can provide many different health benefits, particularly from their capsaicin content and their surprisingly high level of vitamin C. Let’s break down habanero nutrition area by area.
Habanero peppers contain considerably more vitamin C than many citrus fruits. Vitamin C is important for maintaining your body’s ability to heal wounds and for keeping your immune system functioning as it should. It is also an antioxidant that helps to rid your body of free radicals, which can cause certain cancers as well as heart disease.
Habaneros also contain vitamin A, which your body uses to enhance night vision and for maintaining skin health among many other things. A ½ cup serving of habaneros provides 300 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement and 20 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement.
Habanero peppers are rich in potassium as each 4.5 g serving provides 128 mg of the mineral. While this is just a fraction of the potassium that you should consume each day, it is still significant given the relatively small portion size.
While habaneros are not the hottest peppers in the world, they do contain a considerable amount of capsaicin. Capsaicin is the compound that gives hot peppers their heat and is considered a phytonutrient. There is evidence that capsaicin can help with weight loss and that it can fight inflammation.
Along with their nutrients, habanero peppers have other properties that allow them to be beneficial for health; those properties include:
They are fat-free and low in sugar
In addition to having no fat, habanero peppers contain only 15 calories per 4.5-gram serving. That serving size also contains 4 grams of sugar. Both of these qualities make these peppers a fine addition to your diet if you are trying to lose weight.
You can use habanero peppers for treating or preventing illnesses and conditions like:
- Diabetes: Some researchers believe that capsaicin may help with the regulation of insulin levels in that they prevent insulin spikes after meals. Post-meal insulin spikes are among the causes of Type 2 diabetes. The researchers also found that the benefits were especially notable in obese subjects.
- Cancer: The capsaicin in habanero peppers may also help with cancer prevention. Tests have shown that capsaicin can limit the growth of prostate cancer cells. It may also be able to keep cells from becoming cancerous.
- Heart disease: Tests conducted on hamsters found that hamsters who were fed a high-cholesterol diet that was supplemented with capsaicin had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) when compared to other hamsters that were fed the same diet without the capsaicin. As a result, researchers speculate that eating capsaicin-rich peppers like habaneros may help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
- Obesity: In addition to being a fat-free and low-calorie food, habanero peppers are beneficial for weight loss because of their capsaicin content. Capsaicin may help you to lose weight via a process called thermogenesis, which increases the body’s usage of fat.