(NaturalHealth365) The caper is the un-opened flower bud used for centuries in Mediterranean cuisine, where it imparts a salty tang and decorative flair to a variety of meats, salads, pastas and other foods. The unique flavor of capers makes them a very desirable ingredient in the Mediterranean basin. But, great taste is just the beginning of the good news about capers.
These small buds are handpicked in the early hours of the day and then the buds are washed and allowed to wilt for a few hours in the sun before being put into jars and covered with salt, vinegar, brine or olive oil. The plant is native to the Mediterranean, and grows in warm humid climates and is found growing abundantly around Cyprus, Italy, Greece, North Africa and Asia Minor. In the market place, capers are sold by their size and the smaller sized buds are more valuable than the larger sized ones.
A nutritional powerhouse
Capers have a mere 23 calories per 100g. Yet, this spice contains many phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins essential for optimum health. High in the flavonoid compounds – rutin and quercetin – capers are the second highest source of quercetin (180mg per 100g).
Studies show that quercetin acts as an anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent. These spicy buds contain good levels of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin k, niacin and riboflavin and minerals like calcium, iron and copper. And, the news keeps getting better and better.
Reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease
In a new study, Maria A. Livrea and colleagues note that other foods in the so-called Mediterranean diet have gotten plenty of attention for their health benefits. Capers, however, have been largely overlooked until now.
Researchers found that capers help to prevent the oxidation of fat that occurs during cooking and digestion. This was especially noticeable with meats which are where most oxidation occurs. Also, they found that components of capers can help to regenerate the antioxidant vitamin E, making it more available for use. These two things alone can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
The laboratory study involved adding caper extracts to grilled (ground) turkey and analyzing byproducts formed during stimulated digestion. The researchers found that caper-extract helped prevent the formation of certain byproducts of digested meat that is known to be linked to the formation of cancer and the risk of heart disease. The benefits are produced with a small amount of capers – typically used to flavor meat.
Important news for meat lovers
The conclusion of the study was that capers may be extremely beneficial to people whose diets are rich in fats and red meats. If you happen to like the sharp, salty notes of capers, you are going to be protecting you health, while enhancing your recipes. Capers are so versatile and easy to use; they can be added straight from the jar to tuna, venison, salmon and tomato sauces.
They are the favorite of Italian cooks who use these bulbs in antipasto salads and as a topping on pizzas and pasta. Capers render zing to vegetables, meats, veal and fish. You can find it served with smoked salmon and anchovy sauces. In northern Europe, caper brine is one of the main ingredients in their sauces. (Enjoy!)
About the author Blanche has been a student of natural healing modalities for the last 25 years. She had the privilege of working with some of the greatest minds in Natural Healing including Naturopaths, Scientist, and Energy Healers. Having seen people miraculously heal from all kinds of dis-ease through non-invasive methods, her passion now is to help people become aware of what it takes to be healthy.