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What Are the Health Benefits of Capers?

By Bethany Lalonde

You can find capers in the condiments aisle of most grocery stores, where they're usually sold pre-brined in salt or an acidic solution. Small, plump and dark green in color, capers are preserved flower buds. They provide a large burst of flavor despite their relatively small size. Capers are a low-calorie addition to a meal or a dish, adding lots of flavor and a modest nutritional boost without too many calories and no added fat. However, capers are high in sodium, so use them judiciously.

Iron in Capers

Most commonly associated with red blood cell health, iron is necessary for oxygen transport, helping your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron also helps your cells produce enough energy for daily functions, and in general cell development and production. Capers contain a moderate amount of iron, an essential mineral. However, capers are not usually eaten in large quantities, so they are not a reliable source of iron in your diet. A 1 tablespoon serving of capers contains almost less than a quarter milligram of iron, which is about 1 percent of your daily requirement. Adult women ages 19 to 50 require 18 milligrams of iron a day, while those over the age of 51 require 8 milligrams per day. The requirements vary for women who are lactating or pregnant. For specific dosages, contact a doctor. Men over the age of 19 require 8 milligrams of iron per day.

Vitamin K

A fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K is also known as the blood clotting vitamin because of the central role it plays in this process. Vitamin K also helps with keeping your bones healthy and strong, and with cell development. Low levels of vitamin K will lead to abnormal bleeding and, over time, reduced bone density and a greater risk of osteoporosis. A 1 tablespoon serving of capers contains a little more than 2 micrograms of vitamin K. This is 31 percent of your daily recommended intake. For men and women over the age of 19 the recommended daily amount is 90 micrograms per day.

Sodium Content

Capers, whether they are preserved in brine or in salt, contain a high amount of sodium. A 1 tablespoon serving of canned caper buds contains 255 milligrams of sodium per serving. This is 11 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake, which tops out at 2,300 milligrams per day. Adults with high blood pressure should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. A diet high in sodium can lead to a number of health complications, the foremost of which is high blood pressure.

Inclusion in Your Diet

Capers are rarely eaten on their own, although they are frequently incorporated into a number of dishes. For example, Salad Nicoise, a classic French dish, uses capers as a garnish. Capers can also be added to your favorite pasta, to soups, sauces or as a garnish on dressings. Because of their intense flavor, a small amount of capers will go a long way.

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