5 Healthy Things You Don’t Know About Capers
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I’ve always liked capers, but I had never really given much thought about what exactly they are and whether they pack any healthy benefits. Capers are immature flower buds that come from the plant Capparis spinosa. Also called the caper bush, this plant grows abundantly in the Mediterranean. Known for that salty, briny taste, capers are either pickled or cured in salt. Capers are usually treated as a garnish or an ingredient you might add to sauces. If you are a fan of chicken piccata, you know that capers are the star of this dish. What you might not know, however, is that capers pack a lot of nutrients and potential health benefits.
“Caper carries a renowned nutritional value, especially in terms of vitamins and antioxidants related to the occurrence of flavonoids, alkaloids, and glucosinolates as main secondary metabolites. Caper extracts have also shown to display antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, antitumor, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects which correlate the uses of the plant in folk medicine against both metabolic and infectious diseases,” according to one study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
As mentioned by the NIH, capers are very rich in antioxidants. The Mediterranean diet, which is often rich in capers, gets a lot of attention and credit for being heart-healthy. An Italian study added caper extracts to grilled ground turkey. The researchers looked at byproducts that were made from simulated digestion of the turkey.
“The scientists found that caper-extract helped prevent the formation of certain byproducts of digested meat that have been linked by others to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease. That beneficial effect occurred even with the small amounts of caper typically used to flavor food,” according to the study report.
Capers may fight inflammation.
Capers are rich in a plant compound called quercetin, which has strong antioxidant properties.
“Capers are the richest known natural source of quercetin, the most consumed dietary flavonoid,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Quercetin may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Quercetin can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effect,” according to Mount Sinai.Capers may aid in bone health.
Capers contain calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamin K, which are all key nutrients for strong bones.
Capers may help prevent blood clots.
Rutin is another powerful plant compound and antioxidant that is present in capers. It is known to help with blood circulation and help prevent blood clots. It may even lower bad cholesterol.
Capers may help prevent constipation.
Capers contain fiber, which is key in preventing constipation. People usually do not eat capers by the handful, but it is always important to look at your diet holistically and assess how much fiber you are getting. A spoonful of capers over your eggs or salad is a great way to add more fiber to your daily diet.
Some additional nutrients found in capers include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper and more. A potential downside to capers is that they are high in sodium. If you are someone that needs to be especially mindful of your salt intake, speak with a doctor or a competent healthcare professional about healthy ways to include capers in your diet.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.