Habanero peppers typically range from 100,000 to 300,000 Scoville heat units, which means this is one hot pepper; it is among the hottest available chiles. The habanero, meaning "from Havana," is native to Cuba, but you can grow this small chile pepper anywhere under the correct conditions. However, be sure to wear latex gloves when you handle habanero peppers -- these peppers can burn your skin.
Calories and Fat
A 1/2-cup portion -- 75 g -- of raw habanero chiles contains 15 calories, making this a low calorie food. Only those with the hardiest of taste buds can weather the burn of eating habanero peppers alone, however; this pepper is more commonly served in recipes to distribute the heat evenly. Be sure to adjust your meal plan to include the total calories consume in any dish containing habanero peppers. Habaneros contain very little fat, as well; a half-cup portion has 0.1 g. Do not consume more than 44 to 78 g of fat per day to avoid excess weight gain.
Protein and Carbohydrates
The protein content in habanero peppers is quite low -- each 1/2-cup serving provides less than 1 g of this macronutrient. The carbohydrate content is slightly higher. One portion of habanero chiles contains 3.5 g of carbohydrates, a macronutrient that serves as your body's main supply of energy. Carbohydrates also help maintain the function of your kidneys, brain, muscles and central nervous system. A 1/2-cup serving of habanero peppers contains 0.6 g of fiber, carbohydrates that remain undigested in your body. Fiber play an important role in the health of your bowels and digestive system, preventing constipation and diverticulitis. It may also help you lose weight by making you feel fuller after eating.
When habaneros are picked green, this chile contains even more vitamin C than citrus fruit. Because of its high antioxidant content -- vitamin C, for example -- habaneros may slow the signs of aging and help prevent some types of cancer, as well as arthritis and heart disease. Capsaicin, a chemical found in the veins of habanero peppers and other chiles, may destroy prostate cancer cells, according to research published the May 2006 issue of the journal "Cancer Research." The compound causes apoptosis, or controlled, regulated cell death. Tumors treated with capsaicin are significantly smaller than untreated prostate tumors.
The burn of a habanero pepper can be quite painful on the skin, as well as irritating when swallowed. U.S. Pharmacist reports that consuming a high amount of peppers can result in vomiting, nausea, burning diarrhea and abdominal cramps. You can treat a mild burn with ice or cold water, and some people say soaking your skin with milk or eating bread can help disperse the heat. Exposing your eyes to habanero peppers can cause pain, red eyes, uncontrolled twitching of the site and tearing, and in some cases you may need numbing gel for treatment.
The habanero pepper is 85 centuries old. It is believed to have originated in Cuba. Although it is now grown in Belize, Costa Rica, Texas, and even California, the majority of habanero peppers are harvested by the ton in the Yucatan each year. The habanero pepper is definitely one of the hottest peppers known to man at 200,000 - 300,000 Scoville heat units. It is second only to the Red Savina habanero pepper at 350,000 - 550,000 Scoville heat units. To put this in perspective, the Tabasco pepper is only at 30,000 - 50,000 Scoville heat units while the jalapeno pepper is rated at a mere 3,500 - 4,000 Scoville heat units! NOW THAT'S HOT!