Tiny capers pack big disease-fighting punch

October 22, 2007
Capers
Tiny capers, shown in different sizes, are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Credit: Courtesy of Victoria Packing Corp.

Capers, used in such culinary delights as chicken piccata and smoked salmon, may be small. But they are an unexpectedly big source of natural antioxidants that show promise for fighting cancer and heart disease when added to meals, particularly meats, researchers in Italy are reporting in the current (Oct. 17) issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The flower buds of a small bush, capers have been used for centuries in Mediterranean cuisine, where they provide a salty tang and decorative flair to a variety of meats, salads, pastas and other foods.

In the 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.

Their laboratory study involved adding caper extracts to grilled ground-turkey, and analyzing byproducts formed during simulated digestion. The scientists found that caper-extract helped prevent the formation of certain byproducts of digested meat that have been linked by others to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

That beneficial effect occurred even with the small amounts of caper typically used to flavor food. "Caper may have beneficial health effects, especially for people whose meals are rich in fats and red meats," the study concluded.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Plant compounds studied for food safety chores

Related Stories

Plant compounds studied for food safety chores

June 25, 2013

Though the price makes you wince, you might just buy that bottle of your favorite olive oil anyway. Perhaps it's exactly what you want for the salad dressing you're making tonight and for your special stir-fry on the weekend.

Scientists take a new look at an ancient crop

May 24, 2013

Though the price makes you wince, you might just buy that bottle of your favorite olive oil anyway. Perhaps it's exactly what you want for the salad dressing you're making tonight and for your special stir-fry on the weekend.

Olive oil assays may help assure authenticity

May 10, 2013

Though the price makes you wince, you might just buy that bottle of your favorite olive oil anyway. Perhaps it's exactly what you want for the salad dressing you're making tonight and for your special stir-fry on the weekend.

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Elenneth
not rated yet Oct 22, 2007
Antioxidants. Red wine, green tea, tomatos, etc. Who knows how many other seemingly unimportant substances may hold the next big breakthrough in heart healthy, cancer-preventative eating?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.