Capers may explain one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.
A number of new studies strongly suggest that the flowering buds of Capparis Spinosa L (capers) have one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values, as well as diuretic and antihypertensive effects in certain pathological conditions related to uncontrolled lipid peroxidation.
An October 2007 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found an increasing body of evidence that suggests capers have the antioxidant ability to inhibit a large amount of lipid oxidation associated with gastric digestion, particularly with meat.
A study published in Life Science found that capers contain flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin derivatives) and hydrocinammic acids with very high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
The Life Science study also observed that caper consumption could counteract the harmful effects induced by the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 and 6.
Since capers have also been suggested to have a chondroprotective effect, they might be used in the management of cartilage damage during the inflammatory process associated with arthritis.
And, you regular martini drinkers might want to consider replacing your olive with a large caper berry.
Addendum: The United States Department of Agriculture just last week published an updated list of ORAC values for over 277 food items. The newer list is more accurate because lipophilic values were included for the first time. The new data shows that all plants have variable amounts of both lipophilic and hydrophilic phytochemicals that contribute to total ORAC.