Monday, November 12, 2007

Caper Magic

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.


Susan R said...

So, we should eat very ripe fruit and capers. Do you have a recipe that includes both?

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

Good Morning Susan,

I don't have such a recipe - but maybe my "Eating Naturally" recipe guru, Dr. Lauren Stuart, might.

Jim W said...

I'm interested in learning more about ORAC values. Can you recommend a web site with dependable information?

I notice that industry is now making all kinds of ORAC claims; usually not supported by science.

Jessica said...

That's great! I ate capers last night! We make spaghetti, shrimp and capers in olive oil!

Ellen Troyer, MT MA said...

Hi Jim,

I suggest you vitit the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service. They released a new ORAC report just last week on 277 foods. This release includes almost twice the number of foods listed in their first release.

Lauren Stuart, PhD said...

I don't have a recipe for capers and ripe fruit, but I suggest you cut over ripe fruit into small pieces and freeze the sweet morsels for use in fruit smoothies.

Capers might work in a ripe fruit salsa, but you would really have to experiment with that one.

Dr. Whiting said...

Hey Jessica,

Love your pasta recipe! If you use whole wheat pasta that dish becomes even healthier. Real whole wheat pasta can be hard to find and it's a little more expensive, but worth the extra money because the glycemic index is so much lower than regular pasta-and it tastes better too.

alex c said...

I have read that Capers DO help to reduce flatulence and are to be anti-rheumatic in effect. Are there studies showing that capers can improve liver function?

ChefMrT said...

Besides ORAC containing foods, the Mediterranean diet also has the nitrates necessary to build up your defenses against heart problems and stroke! Eating healthy never tasted so good =) Has anyone seen Chef Rocco diSpirito promoting the new Mediterranean style Bertolli Frozen Dinners? They're really good (I work with Bertolli so I guarantee they're tasty!) and really quick/easy to cook. For the pasta lovers, this is the meal for you! Head to
to take a look at demos of Chef Rocco with advice on how to make your dishes even more delectable

kelly said...

chef mr. t,

loved it! thanks for the great tips everyone!