Small but incredibly tasty, capers are the essential ingredient that should never be missing in the kitchen. In fact, capers can enrich salads, sauces, gravies and side dishes, leaving your imagination free. But it's not just this. Capers are also a precious source of health, real superfoods, and this applies to both the flower buds and the fruits of the caper. So let's try to understand better.
Flower buds, properties
Capers are the flower buds of the plant Capparis spinose, are small and rounded. The capers provide glucosinolates, which are substances with an antitumor and anti-inflammatory action, and antioxidants, including quercetin, immediately followed by kaempferol and myricetin. It has been observed that the quercetin contained in the flower buds is present in even greater quantities than the onion, which is considered a major source of quercetin (Wojdylo et al, Plants, 2019). And why is this so important? Because quercetin is a very useful substance for health, it is shown to be anti-hypertensive and helps to counteract the formation of blood clots, and therefore protective for the heart. Not only that, quercetin lowers bad LDL cholesterol, is anti-inflammatory, antiviral and reduces the risk of developing neurodegenerations such as Alzheimer's (Salehi et al, ACS Omega, 2020). A study was able to identify nine antioxidant substances of the flavonoid family present in the capers and not in caper berries (Wojdylo et al, Plants, 2019). Noteworthy is the fact that the capers are characterized by a high antioxidant power, which captures and blocks free radicals and carcinogenic compounds, thus counteracting cellular degeneration (Lo Bosco et al, J Food Sci, 2019).
Capers and joints
Extracts of caper flower buds have been shown to be useful in protecting cartilage from the damage caused by inflammation (Panico et al, Life Sciences, 2005).
Capers and meat
When we eat a steak, never miss a little capers, in the form of a sauce or in salads. In fact, capers have proved particularly useful in counteracting the oxidation, during digestion, of lipids present in food (Tesoriere et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2007). Any lipid oxidation increases the risk of oxidative stress, which in turn opens the way to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and cancer diseases.
Caper berries, properties
The fruits of the caper, or caper berries, are larger than the flower buds, have an elongated shape that resembles an olive and a stalk at one end. The fruits of the caper bring important bioactive substances, such as flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol, terpenoids and tocopherol (Wojdylo et al, Plants, 2019). Studies have observed that caper berries help reduce blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, since they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine and, at the same time, improve the use of glucose by the tissues (Khavasi et al, Adv Pharm Bull, 2017). For this purpose, you can certainly add caper fruits to your preparations, but you can also resort to extracts, which are also useful to reduce triglycerides (Fallah Huseini et al, Complement Ther Med, 2013). The result, highlighted by recent scientific research, is also very interesting, according to which the regular consumption of pickled caper fruits helps to improve the condition of the fatty liver. In fact, the intake of 40 grams per day of pickled caper berries served with other meals, such as sauces, gravies and salads, led, in 3 months, to a significant improvement in the degree of severity of the condition of the fatty liver thanks to the presence of flavonoids. Not only that, the ALT and AST values were also decreased, which are enzymes that, when the liver is healthy, circulate in minimal quantities while an increase indicates a suffering affecting this organ (Khavasi et al, Adv Pharm Bull, 2017). The fruits of the caper have also been found to be anti-inflammatory, useful, for example, in case of rheumatism (Zhou et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2010).
As we have seen, taking capers is beneficial and healthy for the heart, cartilage, brain and liver, as well as helping to combat diabetes and hypertension. However, like any food, capers, fruits and flower buds, should also be eaten in moderation as they bring salt. It is therefore important to include capers in a varied and balanced diet and, if possible, to rinse the capers before consumption.