Celery (Apium graveolens) is a crunchy vegetable that belongs to the Umbelliferae family, Apiaceae, which is linked to carrots, fennel, and parsley. Native to the Mediterranean regions and the Middle East, celery has been cultivated for over thousand of years and was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as the flavoring.
Unlike most other vegetables, nothing goes to waste with celery – all parts of the plant include crisp stalks, leaves, and seeds, are all edible. It has a salty taste, so it is often used for soups and salads. Depending on the variety, some may be very salty.
There are two main varieties of celery: golden heart (yellow celery) and pascal (green celery). Yellow celery has a milder taste and paler color than green celery. It is a self-blanching variety which doesn’t require the extra step of covering the stalks. The most common is the green Pascal celery.
Celery is a popular vegetable found in a variety of cuisines from around the world. It can be eaten cooked or raw. In Europe celery is usually eaten cooked as a vegetable or as a delicate flavouring in a variety of casseroles, stocks, and soups. In the United States, raw celery is served with spreads or dips as an appetizer, in salads.
Apart from its crunchy and pleasant taste, celery also contains many essential nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. Celery is an excellent source of vitamin C which helps your body’s immune system to fight off diseases. It also has a lot of potassium and folic acid both of which are important to keep your body functioning properly.
Health Benefits of Celery
- Prevent cancer
Celery contains coumarins which have been shown to be effective in the prevention of cancer. According to the researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, celery contains eight different families of anti-cancer compounds. The compounds called phthalides and polyacetylenes help in the detoxification of the carcinogens, and thus very effective against cancer, particularly ovarian cancer.
- Lowers cholesterol
Celery juice has been shown to be effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. A study conducted on animals found that the pthalides in celery can significantly lower total cholesterol by increasing bile acid secretion.
- Control blood pressure
Celery contains pthalides that help relax the muscles around the arteries. This allows blood vessels to dilate, thereby reducing pressure. The potassium in celery also helps regulate blood pressure. According to a study conducted on laboratory animals, animals’ blood pressure dropped by 12%- 14% when they were injected with phthalides. For best results, drink celery juice for one week, then stop for three weeks, and start over.
- Acts as a diuretic
The potassium and sodium contents of celery are responsible for its diuretic properties. They regulate body fluids and stimulate urine production by removing excess fluids that accumulates in the body.
- Reduce Inflammation
Celery is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with illness caused by inflammation. A study conducted on mice at University of Illinois has found that a compound found in celery called luteolin can reduce inflammation in the brain, specifically brain’s hippocampus, the area related to memory and learning.
- Cure bad breath
The most common cause of bad breath is poor dental hygiene. Celery may helps to remove food particles on the teeth and the tongue, due to its stringy consistency.
- Treat Bladder infections
The diuretic effects of celery help treat bladder infections as well as the gallstones problems.
- Enhance immune system
The high amounts of vitamin C in celery helps enhance your body’s immune system and protect your body against free radicals.
- Aids weight loss
Celery is a great aid in weight loss because it is very low in calories and has a lot of fiber content, which can make you feel full longer, so you’re less likely to eat more.
- Promote healthy joints
Celery is a best remedy for arthritis, rheumatism and gout. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling and pain around the joints, and thus it is very useful for people suffering from gout and arthritis pain.
When buying celery, look for crisp and thick stalks with fresh-looking leaves. Celery stalks that are smooth inside and have a glossy surface will taste best.