10 Health Benefits of Celery
Celery (Apium graveolens) is a biennial vegetable that belongs to the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family along with carrot, fennel, and parsley.
Native to the Mediterranean regions and the Middle East, celery has been cultivated for thousands of years and was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a seasoning.
The word “celery” comes from the ancient Greek word selinon, meaning “parsley” due to its leafy resemblance.
Unlike most other vegetables, nothing goes to waste with celery – all parts of the plant are edible, including the crisp stalks, leaves, seeds, and even the bulbous root.
There are three main varieties of celery: leaf celery, stalk celery, and celery root.
Leaf celery (Apium graveolens var. secalinum), also known as Chinese celery, is likely the oldest cultivated celery and is grown mostly for its aromatic leaves and seeds. Leaf celery has thin stalks and a stronger flavor than other types of celery. It is often used as a flavoring in soups and sometimes pickled as a side dish.
Stalk or pascal celery (Apium graveolens var. dulce) is the most common variety in grocery stores. It has thick, firm, light green stalks topped with a small bunch of green leaves. This variety is often eaten raw or as an ingredient in salads, but it can also be cooked as a flavoring in soups, stews, and pot roasts.
Celery root (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum), also called celeriac, is majorly grown for its large and bulbous root rather than the stalks. The root, once peeled, can be eaten raw, or boiled and mashed like potatoes. This celeriac has a mild flavor and taste.
Celery Nutrition Facts
Celery is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is packed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Celery is an excellent source of vitamin A, C & K, which all help fight free radicals in the body. It also a good source of potassium and folic acid, both of which are important to keep your body functioning properly.
Now let’s take a look at the nutritional value of celery in more detail. The following is the nutritional information for one cup of chopped celery (raw) (101 grams) [source]:
- Calories: 14.1
- Vitamin K: 29.6 mcg (37% Daily Value)
- Vitamin A: 453 IU (9% Daily Value)
- Folate: 36.4 mcg (9% Daily Value)
- Potassium: 263 mg (8% Daily Value)
- Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g (6% Daily Value)
- Vitamin C: 3.1 mg (5% Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg (4% Daily Value)
- Calcium: 40 mg (4% Daily Value)
- Riboflavin: 0.06 mg (3% Daily Value)
- Magnesium: 11 mg (3% Daily Value)
- Sodium: 81 mg (3% Daily Value)
- Niacin: 0.3 mg (2% Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 24.2 mg (2% Daily Value)
- Protein: 0.7 g (1% Daily Value)
- Vitamin E: 0.3 mg (1% Daily Value)
- Thiamin: 0.02 mg (1% Daily Value)
- Iron: 0.2 mg (1% Daily Value)
- Zinc: 0.1 mg (1% Daily Value)
Health Benefits of Celery
1. Prevents cancer
Celery is one of the cancer-protective vegetables as it contains eight different families of anti-cancer compounds, such as phthalides and polyacetylenes. These compounds have been shown to reduce toxicity and fight against cancer formation, particularly breast cancer, intestinal cancer and leukemia.
2. Lowers cholesterol
Celery seed extract contains essential oils 3-n-butylphthalide (NBP) that has been reported to have a lipid-lowering effect.
In a study conducted by the Department of Pharmacology at the National University of Singapore (NUS), rats fed a high-fat diet for eight weeks that were also given celery extract showed significantly lower lipid levels than those that didn’t receive celery extract. The celery extract group also experienced reductions in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
3. Controls blood pressure
The 3-n-butylphthalide found in celery seed also has anti-hypertensive properties that help regulate blood pressure.
In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2013, rats given celery seed extract experienced significant blood pressure improvements when compared to rats not given celery extract.
The presence of magnesium, fiber and potassium also work jointly to control blood pressure.
4. Improves digestion
Fiber is well known for its digestive benefits as it helps keep your bowel movements regular. One cup of chopped celery (about 101 grams) provides 1.6 grams, or 6 percent of your daily requirements for fiber.
Fiber is helpful in regulating bowel movements by increasing the bulk of your stool and softening it so making it easier to pass. The fiber in celery can also help prevent diarrhea by absorbing water and solidifying your stool with roughage.
5. Reduces inflammation
Celery contains phytochemicals which have the ability to fight inflammation and ease symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.
A study published in Planta Medica suggests that a compound found in celery called luteolin may be able to inhibit the production of COX-2, an enzyme that triggers inflammation.
Another study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that celery juice and celery extracts may help reduce the activity of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-A) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-KB), proteins that are linked to inflammatory problems.
6. Prevents ulcers
Regular consumption of celery has been shown to be effective in preventing or reducing the formation of ulcers.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Biology found that celery contains a special type of ethanol extract that is useful in protecting the lining of the digestive tract from ulcers. It has the ability to significantly replenish depleted levels of gastric mucus that is needed in the stomach lining to prevent tiny holes and openings from forming.
7. Combats infections
Celery has been used for centuries to treat infections due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
A 2009 report published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology shows that celery contains special antimicrobial components found in the seeds of the celery plant. This suggests celery can be used to naturally boost immunity and fight bacterial infections which has further potential to prevent UTIs.
8. Boosts immune system
Celery is high in vitamin C which is essential for boosting your immune system and has been shown to ward off common colds, as well as protect you against a variety of other diseases.
9. Aids in weight loss
Celery is a great aid when it comes to losing weight. It is very low in calories and has a lot of fiber content, therefore it can help you feel full for longer and reduce hunger cravings.
10. Protects liver
Celery is an ideal liver cleansing food. It has diuretic properties which can remove toxins and wastes from the body, keeping the liver in a healthy condition.
Tips on Buying and Storing Celery
When buying celery, look for crisp and thick stalks with fresh-looking leaves. The stalks should be green in color and have a solid, rigid feel. Also, avoid stalks with pithy, hollow or discolored areas.
Once you get celery from the grocery store, wrap it in a dry towel then place in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It will keep fresh for up to two weeks if well stored.
Alternatively, you can freeze celery for up to two months. Wash and cut the stalks into one-inch lengths, blanch them for three minutes, cool, drain, and pack them into plastic bags. Frozen celery can only be used in cooked dishes.