Can You Eat Capers While Pregnant?

When you are pregnant, you worry about everything you do, eat, and put on your body.

Knowing what foods you can eat and what to avoid is essential in pregnancy. You may find yourself concerned about some ingredients like capers, especially if they are an item you don’t eat very often.

The good news is that capers are safe to eat during pregnancy in average amounts (about 1 Tablespoon) as an ingredient in a dish.

The sharp, lemony-olive taste of capers is a staple in Mediterranean dishes and can bring a delightful addition to your diet.

While some people may use foods for their medicinal benefits, capers are not recognized as a medication. Therefore if you intend on using them as medication for more than seasoning food, you should discuss it with your doctor. 

Continue reading for details about what capers are, how capers may affect a body when taken in greater doses than in a recipe, and some recipes you can make at home to try out capers.

We are not medical professionals, but we do our best to provide you with accurate and well-researched information. You should always talk with your doctor if you have any questions.

DISCLAIMER: While this information was prepared by a certified dietitian, it is NOT a medical advice. Please consult your own medical professional before altering your diet. The information is strictly for educational purposes.

Capers Are Safe To Eat During Pregnancy

If you have been searching on the internet for some information about whether or not capers are safe, you might become alarmed as you read.

We want to clarify some information for you. 

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database compiles data on foods and other plants and their effectiveness as medicines.

They rank different items according to their safety with the following labels: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

This website does require a subscription to access the database. 

Capers are a commonly used ingredient in Italian, Spanish, French, and other Mediterranean dishes. Millions of people eat them daily with no ill effects. 

Health Claims About Capers

There are many claims about the benefits of taking large quantities of capers or caper fruit extract as a medicinal agent.

Remember, the effects discussed in these studies are large amounts, much higher than what is eaten in a regular serving of one meal.

One serving of capers is about 1 tablespoon which is equal to about 9-10 grams of whole capers.

The medical studies use caper extract and caper fruit extract, not whole capers. 

However, it is important to note that there is Insufficient Evidence to rate capers’ effectiveness or safety in treating these conditions.

While several studies investigated the benefit of capers, only a couple of small studies limited in scope show any promising results.

Some people claim that using capers as a medicinal product can improve diabetes, fungal infections, chest congestion.

Others claim that caper extracts can cure intestinal worms and leishmaniasis (a parasitical skin disease).

Capers

Still, others explain that applying caper extracts can improve skin disorders like dry skin.

It is important to remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The wide variety of claims for this plant should signify that it is too good to be true.

Negative Effects From Capers And Caperberries As Medicinals

There are not any legitimate studies that found capers to be effective at treating any kind of parasite. 

There is also no clear indication that capers have any benefit in clearing lung congestion.

A study conducted in 1991 and another in 2011 determined that rather than healing skin irritation, extract from capers and caperberries caused contact dermatitis and allergic reactions.

One warning you find on multiple websites is that capers have blood-thinning effects and may be dangerous during pregnancy.

This is confusing information. The reason some websites post this warning is that Capers contain rutin, also called rutoside, which is plant pigment.

Rutin is thought to reduce the likelihood of blood clots and strengthen the walls of blood vessels, improving blood flow.

The USDA does not offer any guidelines for using rutin due to the lack of research. Some users have taken this information to indicate that capers may lead to excess bleeding.

However, capers are also high in Vitamin K, which is a known, documented substance that enables clotting according to the USDA, therefore reducing the likelihood of a blood-thinning problem.

This is especially true if you are only eating capers in a meal, and not trying them in a large dose as a medication.

Potential Benefits From Capers And Caperberries As Medicinals

A few studies have shown limited benefits from capers or caperberry extracts. One investigation in 2013 of 60 men found that caper fruit extract in combination with regular treatment and diet change may reduce blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetics.

The results in this small but promising study have not been repeated. Another study showed that caper fruit extract reduced triglyceride levels in lab rats. 

Collection of Capers

Capers are also rich in antioxidants and have demonstrated health benefits in lab tests, but there hasn’t been a human study.

The conclusion you should take from this research is that capers are safe to eat in a meal whether you are pregnant or not.

What Exactly Are Capers?

We have discussed the benefits and potential drawbacks of capers as a medicinal, but we haven’t covered what capers are and what to do with them. 

Capers are the immature buds of flowers from the prickly caper plant.

It is cultivated in Italy, Morocco, and other Mediterranean regions, and in parts of Asia and Australia.

This small green bud is harvested, dried, then pickled in brine with vinegar, salt, or wine.

The process brings out the flavors of lemon and olive in the capers. If the capers are not harvested, they blossom then grow into caperberries which are just a little larger than capers and are similar to olives but with only a tiny seed.

Nutritional Information For Capers

One serving of capers is about 1 tablespoon, although most recipes call for 3 tablespoons to 1/4 of a cup for 4-6 servings. 1 tablespoon (about 9 grams) of capers has

  • 2 calories
  • .2 g of protein
  • .4 g carbs
  • .3 g fiber
  • 140 mg sodium (about 5% DV)
  • 5 mg potassium (about 1% DV)
  • 2% Vitamin K of the DV
  • 1% Iron of the DV
  • 4% Copper of the DV

What Capers Taste Like 

Capers have a natural lemony-olive flavor. Once they have been dried and pickled, they also develop a sharp, sour taste.

They have a salty taste due to the brine. If you want to reduce the saltiness, you can rinse them before using them in your favorite recipe.

How To Use Capers

Capers are ready to eat right out of the jar. You can toss them in with a salad or finely chop them and use them as a topping on a bagel or a pizza.

Add finely chopped capers to salad dressings, cook them into sauces, or add them to a tapenade.

Small capers can be added whole to roasted or sautéed veggies toward the end of the cooking time.

The flavor of capers works well with salmon, lamb, and pork. They are a frequent ingredient in lemon sauces, remoulades, and Caesar salad dressings. 

Healthy Recipes For Capers During Pregnancy

The following recipes feature foods like salmon and eggplant which support a healthy pregnancy but also include capers so you can experiment with the flavor of this unique ingredient.

Baked Salmon With Capers

Salmon is a healthy fish to eat during pregnancy because it is high in omega-3s and is one of the few nutritional sources of vitamin D.

Topped with lemon, herbs, butter, and capers, this salmon dish is a tasty and healthy addition to a pregnancy diet.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brine 4 salmon filets in 4 cups of water and 3 t tablespoons of kosher salt for 15 minutes.
  3. Place a large sheet of foil on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Pat the salmon filets dry and lay them out on the foil.
  5. Sprinkle the salmon with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Lay slices of lemon and sprigs of oregano and thyme around and between (but not on top of) the salmon.
  6. Close and seal the foil around the salmon.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the foil. Then, open the packet so the steam can release and continue baking for 3-6 minutes until the salmon is just tender and the center is still pink (medium well). The internal temperature should be 125-130.

While the salmon is cooking, make the caper butter topping.

  1. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
  2. Add one clove of grated garlic and 2 tablespoons of jarred capers, drained. (You can also rinse the capers to reduce the amount of sodium if that is a concern).
  3. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Serve each filet of salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice and a scoop of caper butter sauce. 

Stuffed Eggplant

When you are pregnant, you want to pack in a variety of colorful vegetables to increase the variety of vitamins and nutrients that you eat.

This stuffed eggplant dish gives you a boost of Vitamins A, E, and B complex as well as the all-important folic acid.

This dish makes a great main course for a vegetarian family or a side dish with a slice of lean meat. 

Use small seedless eggplants for this recipe for the best results.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut 6 small eggplants in half longways and arrange them cut side up in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Let them cool until they are easy to handle, about 10 minutes.
  4. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  5. Scoop out the pulp of the eggplant but leave the skins as a whole.
  6. Chop the pulp coarsely and add to a large bowl.
  7. Mix in 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of capers, 2 tablespoons of sliced black olives, and 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce. Add salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.
  8. Stuff the eggplant skins with the mixture.
  9. Spread one 8 oz can of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
  10. Arrange the stuffed eggplants in the dish.
  11. Spoon a second 8-ounce can of tomato sauce over the stuffed eggplant.
  12. Bake at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Substitutions For Capers

If you are hesitant about eating capers for health reasons or because you don’t have any in your kitchen, you can try these substitutions.

Substitutions for Capers

Green OlivesLow Cholesterol, High in antioxidants
Kalamata OlivesHigh in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats
Pickled Red OnionsRich in Folate, Vitamin C, Calcium, and more
Green Peppercorns in BrineHigh in Iron

Final Thoughts

Capers are a commonly used ingredient in Mediterranean cooking that millions of pregnant women eat every day.

As long as you are eating them in normal amounts used in recipes it is safe to eat capers during pregnancy. 

When you start investigating capers as a medicinal item, you will find many claims about the benefits and dangers associated with them.

Remember that the amounts of caper or caperberry fruit extract in these situations is much higher than a normal amount you would eat in one (or even two) servings of a meal.

Also, there is not enough clear, substantiated scientific information to justify the claims made about capers as a plant medicine.

We have presented the most balanced viewpoint based on our research, but we are not medical professionals.

If you have concerns or questions about your pregnancy or questions about safe eating, you should ask your doctor or another medical professional. 

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