Habanero peppers are one of the spiciest pepper varieties on earth.
The habanero species is characterized by small peppers that are most often orange, but can also be white, pink or red.
Mexican, Spanish and Latin cuisines incorporate habanero peppers into many of their dishes. And people who eat them reap multiple health benefits as a result.
Adding habanero peppers to your diet may offer you these advantages as well.
Health Benefits Of Habanero Pepper
Habanero pepper may help in reducing pain in your body.
Capsaicin affects the release, storage, synthesis and transport of substance P.
Which plays a part in pain regulation in the body by sending pain impulses to the brain. Capsaicin reduces the levels of substance P in sensory neurons, making the skin and joints insensitive to pain.
Neurons are cells that carry information within the brain and between the brain and other parts of the body.
When substance P is depleted in nerve endings, pain signals cannot be conveyed to the brain.
Several studies show that the capsaicin in habanero peppers boosts the body’s fat burning rate.
One study in rats found it does this partially by stimulating proteins that break down fat, and inhibiting ones that store it.
Rats that were fed a high-fat diet plus capsaicin lost 8% more weight than rats receiving the same diet minus the capsaicin in habanero peppers.
Could it play a role in treating obesity?
Hopefully, further research will answer this question.
Eating habanero peppers could benefit people with arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
In addition, the capsaicin in these peppers is an ingredient in some creams and ointments applied topically to the skin to treat arthritis pain.
It’s a safe and effective treatment for most people when used on healthy, unbroken skin, although it should be used under a doctor’s care.
One of the compounds in habanero peppers is called capsaicin, and it is one of the best reasons to add hot peppers to your diet.
Capsaicin is linked to many positive health benefits. Weldon Burge reports in his book, “Grow the Best Peppers,” that capsaicin may reduce your risk of blood clots.
Which also protects your heart. Eating habanero peppers may reduce the fat levels in your blood so your body is able to flush more of it away.
Capsaicin is also antibacterial so your body is able to fight off bacteria that lead to infection, and it may have anticancer properties as well.
Oranges, grapefruits and other members of the citrus family are often given the credit for being the best sources of vitamin C. Jack E. Staub and Ellen Buchert report in their book, “75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden,” that a habanero pepper can have as much as six times the amount of vitamin C found in an orange.
The unripe green habanero peppers contain the highest concentration of vitamin C.
Getting enough vitamin C in your diet will keep your immune system healthy. Promote healthy teeth and gums, and aid in muscle maintenance.
History of the Habanero Pepper
As a member of the chinense species, the history of the habanero dates back to 6,500 B.C. An intact chinense pod was found in Preceramic levels in Guitarrero Cave in Peru, indicating that it was 8500 years old.
The species is thought to have originated in the Amazon basin and was gradually domesticated over many millennia, as locals learned to farm and grow plants.
They could then use human selection to breed larger and stronger versions, and by about 1000 B.C., many chinense varieties were domesticated and spread throughout South and Central America, and the Caribbean.
After Columbus reached the Caribbean Islands in 1492, he brought back many varieties to the Portuguese, who then spread them to Africa.
The Habanero itself is thought to have originated in Cuba, as it is named after the Cuban city of La Habana, known in the U.S. as Havana, because it used to feature in heavy trading there.
It is related to the Scotch bonnet pepper; they have somewhat different pod types but are varieties of the same species and have similar heat levels.
The habanero pepper grows mainly on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where it is now thought to have originated, though it also grows in other hot climates including in Belize, in Costa Rica, in parts of the United States, and in Panama where it is known as the aji chombo.
Once the Spanish had discovered it, they spread it far and wide around the world.
So much so that taxonomists in the 18th century thought it originated in China and therefore named it “Capsicum chinense” or the “Chinese pepper.”
If anything, this pepper’s popularity is even more on the rise today.
How Hot is a Habanero Pepper?
Habanero peppers are among the hottest chili peppers in the world.
Measuring in between 80,000 – 600,000 Scoville Units, the habanero pepper is sure to bring the heat you crave in spicy recipes, but beware.
Some people believe they can handle the heat, but may not be quite prepared for the levels of the habanero.
However, we’re guessing that if you’re here looking for recipes, you probably love the heat as much as we do.
There are a number of varieties of habanero peppers, ranging in ripe colors from orange, red, yellow, chocolate brown, and even white.
Though some growers argue that anything but the Orange Habanero is not a true habanero.
The most popular Orange Habanero typically measure between 100,000 SHU and 350,000 SHU, with most falling in the range of 200,000-300,000 SHU.
In comparison, the jalapeno pepper ranks in with 2,500 – 8,000 units.
How to Cut a Habanero Pepper
Put plastic gloves on your hands before touching the habanero peppers. And wear them until you finish working with the peppers.
Place habanero peppers into colander. Wash the peppers under cool running water. Transfer peppers to cutting board.
Cut tops off habanero peppers with chef’s knife and discard stems. Cut peppers in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds if you want to weaken some of the heat, and discard. Leave the seeds intact if you want intense heat.
Cut the pepper halves into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into tiny pieces to finish chopping the peppers.
Transfer the chopped peppers to the bowl and add them to your recipe.
Place the knife and the cutting board into the sink. Wash with dishwashing soap, using dishcloth to scrub all surfaces well. Rinse items in warm water.