Pickled capers contain many phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins essential for optimum health.
A new study conducted by researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, shows that a compound frequently found in pickled capers can activate proteins required for healthy human brain and heart activity.
Capers are edible flower buds that are harvested from a bush called Capparis spinosa. They have been used for centuries in Mediterranean cuisine, but they have also been used as a folk medicine for hundreds of years. They are an unexpectedly big source of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins essential for optimum health.
As well as being a storehouse of essential vitamins and other nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E and fiber, capers also are a very rich source of flavonoid compound quercetin (180 mg/100 g).
Research studies state that quercetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties and possible circulatory and gastrointestinal benefits. It is believed that it can regulate proteins that are needed for body functions such as the heart rhythm, thought, muscular contraction, and normal functioning of the thyroid, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract.
University of California, Irvine School of Medicine’s Professor Geoffrey Abbott and graduate student Kaitlyn Redford discovered that quercetin modulates potassium ion channels in the KCNQ gene family.
Kaitlyn Redford is the first author of the study titled, “The ubiquitous flavonoid quercetin is an atypical KCNQ potassium channel activator .” which was published in the journal Communications Biology.
These channels have a significant influence on human health, and their dysfunction is linked to several common human diseases.
The study claims that quercetin modulates the KCNQ channels by directly regulating how they sense electrical activity in the cell, and it seems that one percent extract of pickled capers can activate channels essential for normal human brain and heart activity.
“Now that we understand how quercetin controls KCNQ channels, future medicinal chemistry studies can be pursued to create and optimize quercetin-related small molecules for potential use as therapeutic drugs,” Professor Abbott said.
However, we should be careful about how much and when to consume pickled capers and be aware that patients undergoing any surgical intervention may have to avoid pickled capers as they can act as a blood thinner and lead to excessive bleeding.