Capers are the flower buds of the plant that thrives mainly in the Mediterranean regions. Thanks to their therapeutic and nutritional properties they were already known in ancient times
The caper plant, scientific name Capparis Spinosa, belongs to the Capparidaceae family. Its leaves are roundish while its flowers are white and very odorous.
The edible parts that are used to feed the capers are contained in the flower buds.
The capers are widespread in the Mediterranean area and grows spontaneously in limestone soils, need very little water to live and grow.
- Chemical Composition
- Immune System
- Ultraviolet Rays
- Weight Loss
They have been used for gastronomic purposes since ancient times. The Greek physician and pharmacist Dioscorides, in 70 AD. approximately, he spoke about it in his work De Materia Medica. Here he described them as a diuretic and effective food for toothache.
The harvest takes place in the summer months in coincidence with the flowering period of the plant, in particular it is important that they are picked as soon as the buds sprout.
This plant species is of great interest for its medicinal and pharmacological properties and for its culinary uses. That of the caper is one of the medicinal plants that have been widely used in traditional medicine during subsequent civilizations to treat various ailments and diseases.
For example, the Iranian people used the root, fruit and bark of the plant as diuretics and tonics against malaria and joint diseases. In Pakistan, the leaves of the plant have been used as an analgesic, for hemorrhoids, as anti-rheumatic, depurative and diuretic.
In India the roots are used to treat fever, rheumatism, paralysis, toothache and to kill worms in the ear. The bark is used against cough, asthma and inflammation. The roots and fruits have been used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and gout in traditional medicine in China. ( 1 )
|Chemical composition for 100 g of capers|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||7|
They also contain rutin and quercetin (compared to their weight it is the plant that contains the higher percentage), a substance belonging to the group of flavonoids and possessing antioxidant properties that we know to be able to bring benefits to the human body.
They are a food with few calories, 100 grams have a yield of 23 kcal .
Thanks to the large amount of quercetin, which we have seen to be a natural antioxidant, capers perform an anti- inflammatory function. Quercetin itself is now being studied for its hypothetical anticancer properties.
These plant foods are also a good source of vitamin E that helps cells maintain their integrity. A 2014 study explains the anticancer properties of this food. ( 2 )
Another study examined the antioxidant properties of the essential oil extracted from the flowers and leaves of the plant. The essential oil and aqueous infusion of the same plant parts showed antiproliferative activity on colon cancer cells. ( 3 )
The great antioxidant activity has also been demonstrated in the methanol extracts of fresh capers. More specifically, the fruit has had a positive impact on liver cancer cells. ( 4 )
The fruits of the caper ( Capparis spinosa ) have been used as food and as a folk medicine in the treatment of inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatism.
A recent study showed better anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects for fruits and leaves than spinosa with respect to those of the roots. ( 5 ) Aqueous extracts of the caper proved to be the best active anti-inflammatory fraction and also showed anti-arthritic activity. ( 6 )
According to the researchers, the anti – inflammatory properties of this fruit are due to the activity of cytokines. ( 7 )
From the roots of the plant an oily dye is obtained which is used for the treatment of hemorrhoids and for inflammation of the mouth.
The extracts of caper have increased the activity of phagocytes in animals subjected to testing. According to a recent 2016 study, those who consume these vegetables certainly have a more efficient immune system. ( 8 )
The ultraviolet rays can be dangerous to your health, it may be the cause of skin cancers such as melanoma. According to a 2002 study, these plants contain compounds with photo-protective properties. ( 9 )
Moisturize the Skin
The regular intake of capers brings benefits to the skin. These in fact moisturize it and give relief in case of dryness. ( 10 )
According to some studies, the extracts of aqueous caper peel relieve the neurodegeneration induced by the lipopolysaccharide in rats, thus showing a protective effect against cognitive diseases, learning and memory damage. ( 11 )
In an Italian study the decoction of C. spinosa roots showed a significant inhibitory activity on the growth of Deinococcus radiophilus. ( 12 )
The fractions of methanolic butanolic and aqueous extract from C. spinosa have shown antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus epidermis and against Streptococcus faecalis. ( 13 )
In capers they are recognized stimulant properties which will convey their benefits especially against appetite and digestive process.
The rutin helps to reduce the rate of cholesterol in the blood. It works especially in obese people and inhibits the formation of dangerous plaques in the arteries. In this way there are benefits for the cardiovascular system. Even the plant’s shoots contain a substance useful for reducing LDL cholesterol, niacin. ( 14 )
They are a useful food for people suffering from diabetes. Research has shown that this vegetable contains substances that help reduce blood sugar levels. Theirs consumption also improves the functioning of the liver in diabetic people without having side effects on the kidneys. ( 15 , 16 )
Aqueous caper extracts show significant anti-hyperglycemic activity and anti-obesity effects. In fact, the consumption of caper extracts by diabetic rats has led to a decrease in both sugars and triglycerides in the blood. ( 17 , 18 )
A study of caper ethanol extracts in type 2 diabetic patients in Iran showed a significant decrease in fasting blood glucose levels. Glycosylated hemoglobin and triglyceride levels also suffered a significant decrease. ( 19 )
In diabetic mice, treatment with aqueous extract of capers promotes insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues. Thus there is less endogenous glucose production in treated mice compared to untreated mice. ( 20 )
The capers have a good fiber content and a low caloric intake. This combination it is perfect for those who want to lose weight naturally. To achieve this, however, it is necessary to introduce them naturally in one’s diet.
Capparis Spinosa extracts have been shown to have antiallergic properties. The capers contain substances with antihistamines and other effects that control the mast cells , compounds that lead to reactions allergic.
The idea of the study was born from the observation of the particular characteristics of this plant that manages to develop in particularly hot and dry areas.
According to a 2005 study, allergy sufferers eating capers regularly can benefit from them. ( 21 )
They are prepared for their conservation as soon as they are picked, after a period of 24 hours spent in the shade to wither. The capers can be preserved in salt (brine), under vinegar and also in oil.
If they are purchased in bag-type packs, once opened, they can be decanted together with salt in a glass jar with a screw lid to keep them much longer.
There are no particular contraindications for capers, moderate use is recommended for pregnant women and their use is not recommended to people who undergo surgery in how thin the blood is.
According to some researchers must absolutely be avoided in pregnancy. ( 22 )
The capers, being very salty, can create problems for those suffering from hypertension in this case, to eliminate a good part of salt, it is possible to soak them in water at least an hour before consuming them.
Even the young leaves of the plant, after being cooked, can be consumed in salads.
Their classification takes place through dimensions and it is curious to note how the smaller ones are considered the most valuable.
They are grown in large quantities in the territory of the French Riviera. Each bush can produce up to 3.000 capers during a season.
The best capers are those preserved in salt, this method guarantees the preservation of the organoleptic properties of the food as it avoids the use of other additives that are often added to pickled preserves.
They are the well-known and prestigious capers of Pantelleria which in recent years have received certification IGP. In this area the volcanic origin of the soil gives them a particular taste that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
In the Bible, in the book Ecclesiastes, capers were known for their aphrodisiac properties.
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Greeks and Romans used capers for both food and therapeutic purposes. In Greece in particular, they were used to prevent flatulence.
The root extract is used in the cosmetic field. In particular, it is used to treat rashes and the capillary fragility.
The caper root was used as an analgesic and carminative agent and also has antihypertensive activity. ( 23 )
The herbal tea made from roots and young shoots is useful for the treatment of rheumatism, gastric and intestinal disorders. In the folklore of the central region of Saudi Arabia, the pastes prepared from the bark of the roots are used externally to treat swollen joints, rashes and dry skin.
In Morocco, unopened buds are used externally to treat eye infections and prevent cataracts, while dried caper fruits are designed to treat hypertension and diabetic complications when taken orally with a glass of water. ( 24 )
They can be preserved in many ways: in salt, in brine, in oil, in vinegar and with wine. How much they are too delicate and tender to be collected mechanically are hand-picked.
The small capers are more tasty and flavorful than large ones. In fact they are considered more valuable and have a higher cost.
Capers: Properties and Benefits
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