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February 10, 2016
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist

What capers lack in size they make up for in health benefits. The tiny,
piquant buds of the caper shrub are highly prized for their flavor but it
seems they also pack a powerful health punch.

Scientifically known as Capparis spinosa, caper buds are normally sold
in jars preserved in oil, vinegar, brine or salt. They bring a distinctive
flavor to pizzas, salads and other Mediterranean delicacies but did you
also know that capers could fight cancer and heart disease, help
diabetes sufferers, and even help prevent allergies?

Nutritional Profile of Capers

Capers contain a small amount of fat (100g has only 1 percent of the
daily value of fat), no cholesterol, a little potassium (100g gives 1
percent of the daily value), dietary fiber, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C,
iron (9 percent of the daily value per 100g), and magnesium (8 percent
of the daily value per 100g).

Watch out though, capers do contain a lot of sodium due to the way
they are preserved so be careful not to overdo it.

How to Use Capers in Cooking

Capers pair well with tuna and anchovy and are often used in tartare
dishes and tonnato sauces. Tuna with caper sauce is a delicacy, and
you can also use capers to top pizzas and Mediterranean salads.
Remoulade is a type of mayonnaise which uses caper brine as a main

You may not eat many capers at once, but these buds still provide some
significant health benefits. We looked at the scientific benefits to find
out exactly what.

7 Reasons You Should Be Eating More Capers

1. Could Capers Help Treat Viral Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is a liver infection caused by one of several viruses. In a 1980
study by researchers Saxena S, Garg AK, Jain A in India, an Ayurveda
therapy containing Capparis spinosa (caper extract) among other
elements apparently improved the rate of recovery from hepatitis A in
30 children.

The results were also seen in a 1976 study by  Sama SK, Krishnamurthy
L, Ramachandran K, et al. it appears capers have a protective effect on
the liver.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Capers

Could these mini buds have potent anti-inflammatory powers?
Scientists seem to think so, including researchers from the Shanghai
Institute of Pharmaceutical Industry in a 2010 study. Capers have
traditionally been used a treatment for rheumatism and the scientists
set out to discover what could be giving the bud its anti-inflammatory

Active compounds found in capers included flavonoids, indoles, and
phenolic acids, which may give the bud serious anti-inflammatory

Capers Can Help Treat Diabetes

An extract of the caper fruit could be a safe anti-hyperglycemic and
anti-hypertriglyceridemic remedy for Type 2 diabetic patients.
According to the results of a 2013 study by the Institute of Medicinal
Plants, ACECR, Karaj, Iran.

The study looked at 54 patients with
Type 2 diabetes who took 400mg
of caper fruit extract or placebo tablets three times a day.

The results showed a decrease in blood glucose levels in the
caper-treated group as well as a decrease in triglycerides.

Capers Can Act as an Anti-Allergy Remedy

Capers have a strong anti-allergy and anti-histamine effect, say
scientists from the University of Messina in Italy in a 2005 study. An
extract of capers was tested orally on guinea pigs and demonstrated a
marked antihistamine effect in the study. Whether these results will
translate into a human population needs to be further tested.

Capers are a Great Source of Vitamin K

There are not too many food sources of Vitamin K and capers are one
of them. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your blood to clot
and to
keep your bones strong and healthy.

You may not eat many capers at a time, but one tablespoon of capers
actually contains 2 micrograms of vitamin K, which is around 31
percent of the daily value for the vitamin.

Capers Have a Powerful Antioxidant Effect

Capers may be a secret weapon in the fight against heart disease and
cancer, say researchers.

Despite their small size, when these buds are added to meats and other
meals they dramatically reduce the negative effects of digesting red
meat that are linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

A 2007 study from Università di Palermo in Italy shows this antioxidant
effect that comes even from the small amount of capers consumed in
the average meal.

Now, these studies do not give you a "license to thrill" yourself with as
much red meat as you want. You should continue to limit the amount f
read meat for all the usual reasons --- lower your risk for heart disease,
cancer in general and
prostate cancer in particular.

Capers May Have a Powerful Anti-Arthritic Effect

And capers may also be valued for their anti-arthritic effects.

In a 2011 study from Nottingham Plant Biotechnology R&D Center,
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China looked at the anti-arthritic action
of the common caper, and defined which combination of caper extract
and combining agent was most effective.

A 2015 study from Kurukshetra University in India followed up on this
study when producing its list of medicinal plants with potential
anti-arthritic activity.

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Rice and beans can actually help to
lower your blood sugar levels.