Capers are crammed full of two major sirtuin-activating nutrients-Rutin and Quercetin.
If you are not aware capers are like salty, dark-green pellets and they are amongst the most understated of foods.
They are, in fact, pickled flower buds, which grow in the Mediterranean before being hand-picked. When combined with the right ingredients they provide a distinctive and inimitable flavor to round off a dish with style. Bold, briny, and powerfully salty, they tend to fall into the same love-it-or-hate-it category as olives and anchovies. But, while saltiness may be their high note, capers—like olives and anchovies, for that matter—bring exceptional depth and character to cooked and raw dishes alike. The great thing about capers is that they serve as flavor enhancers, and flavor boosters.
- Unopened flower buds of this shrub are picked and preserved in salt or pickled in vinegar as the culinary capers which are now enjoyed worldwide as garnishes or as pungent flavor additives to a large number of foods including sauces, salads, fish, meats, pizza toppings, and hors d’oeuvres.
Health benefits of capers
- Being flower buds, capers are, in fact, very low in calories; providing just 23 calories per 100 g. Nonetheless, this spice contains many phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins essential for optimum health.
- Capers are one of the highest plant sources of flavonoid compounds rutin (or rutoside) and quercetin. Capers, in fact, is a large source of rutin; 100 grams contain 332 mg of this compound. Also, Capers is a very rich source of quercetin (180 mg/100 g) second only to tea leaf. Both of these compounds work as powerful antioxidants. Research studies suggest that quercetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Furthermore, rutin strengthens capillaries and inhibits platelet clump formation in the blood vessels. Both these actions of rutin help in the smooth circulation of blood in the capillaries. It has found application in trial treatments for hemorrhoids, and varicose veins as well as in reducing LDL-cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
- The spicy buds contain healthy levels of vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin K, niacin, and riboflavin. Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol.
- Furthermore, minerals like calcium, iron, and copper are also present in significant amounts. Their high sodium level is mainly due to the addition of sea salt (sodium chloride) in the brine.
Recipe using Capers
Mediterranean Lentil Salad
- 1 cup French green lentils (Le Puy)
- 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
- 1 cup loose parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup loose torn basil
- 8 – 10 sun-dried tomatoes halved or sliced
- 2 Tbs. capers
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- fresh parmesan shavings (optional)
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Cook the lentils in a great deal of water in a rolling boil, till tender but still toothy, around 30 minutes. Drain, as needed. Transfer into a large serving bowl.
- To the bowl, add the red onion, parsley, basil, tomatoes, capers, and toasted pine nuts.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and also a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over lentils.
- Give everything a good toss. Taste it. Add more salt or lemon juice as needed. Serve along with parmesan shavings if desired.