Capers are small, pickled flower buds that can add saltiness and tang to a dish. They’re high in sodium and best use sparingly for both flavor and health reasons.
Salty, rich, and tangy, capers are a mainstay in Mediterranean cuisine and used to bring a burst of flavor to a variety of dishes.
Capers are the immature flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a type of bush that’s commonly cultivated in countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece (
They’re usually salted and pickled and used as a garnish or seasoning, thanks to their small size and intense flavor.
What’s more, capers pack quite a punch in terms of nutrition and may be associated with several health benefits.
This article explores some of the benefits and downsides of capers and will take a closer look at how to use them.
Because capers are consumed in very small amounts, each serving provides a low number of calories and few grams of carbs, fat, and protein.
However, they do contain a high amount of sodium, along with a small amount of copper and vitamin K.
A tablespoon (9 grams) of canned capers contains (
- Calories: 2
- Protein: 0.2 grams
- Carbs: 0.4 grams
- Fiber: 0.3 grams
- Sodium: 9% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Copper: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 2% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 1% of the DV
- Iron: 1% of the DV
- Magnesium: 1% of the DV
Sodium plays a central role in regulating fluid balance and blood pressure levels (
Plus, they provide a bit of vitamin K, a micronutrient that your body needs for blood clotting and bone health (
Capers are low in calories, carbs, protein, and fat and contain a small amount of copper and vitamin K — two essential nutrients.
Capers may be associated with several health benefits.
Good source of antioxidants
Some research also indicates that antioxidants may reduce inflammation and protect against chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes (
Could support weight loss
Capers are loaded with flavor yet low in calories, making them an excellent addition to a healthy weight loss diet. And for some people, losing weight may benefit their overall health.
May have diabetes-fighting properties
Although more research is needed, some studies suggest that capers may have potent diabetes-fighting properties.
According to one review, certain components found in capers could help promote better blood sugar management by enhancing the uptake of sugar by the tissues, reducing carbohydrate absorption, and protecting the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas (
Similarly, an older study in 54 people with diabetes found that consuming 400 mg of caper fruit extract 3 times daily for 2 months led to significant improvements in fasting blood sugar levels and long-term blood sugar management compared with those in a control group (
Still, more studies are needed to determine how capers may affect blood sugar levels when enjoyed in normal amounts as part of a healthy diet.
Capers are rich in antioxidants, including quercetin and rutin. They may also help support weight loss and promote healthy blood sugar levels, but more research is needed.
Capers are relatively high in sodium, packing nearly 9% of the recommended daily value into a 1-tablespoon (9-gram) serving (
For this reason, it’s best to enjoy capers in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet, especially if you’re watching your intake of salt or following a low sodium diet.
Additionally, you can rinse capers before using them to help decrease their sodium content.
Capers are relatively high in sodium, which may increase your blood pressure levels. High sodium diets have also been linked to other adverse effects, including an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Capers are a versatile ingredient that can be easily added to a variety of recipes.
Typically available pickled and canned, they have a rich, salty flavor and slightly tangy taste that works well in sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes.
They’re also commonly used to make chicken piccata or served on bagels paired with lox, cream cheese, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
If you’re feeling creative, you can also try using capers as a topping for your next homemade pizza, mixing them into dips and dressings, or swapping them in for pickles when making tuna or macaroni salad.
Keep in mind that capers are very salty, so you may need to adjust your recipes accordingly or rinse excess salt off of your capers before adding them to your recipes.
Capers can add a rich, salty flavor and tangy taste to sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes. They can also be used to make chicken piccata, lox bagels, pizzas, dips, and dressings.
Capers are widely used as a seasoning and garnish in Mediterranean cuisine.
Although they’re low in calories and contain several important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they’re also very high in sodium and should be enjoyed in moderation.
Try adding capers to pizza, pasta dishes, salads, sauces, and dressings for an extra burst of flavor and nutrients.
Just one thing
Try this today: Capers are great for giving some dishes a plant-based twist. For example, my favorite way to use capers is to swap them in for anchovies when I’m making Caesar salad dressing or pasta sauce.