Stalking Good Nutrition
If you are always looking for ways to improve your diet and make it more nutritious, you might want to give celery some serious consideration. April is National Fresh Celery Month, and we think this is a very worthwhile celebration. After all, celery is low in calories, full of nutrients, and offers a satisfying crunch!
Until recently, many people believed that celery didn’t have many dietary benefits beyond the fact that it only contains a few calories. It was even rumored that you expended more energy chewing celery than you took in by consuming it. However, we now know that celery actually packs a punch nutritionally and is a very healthy food to eat frequently.
Celery is actually an ancient crop that may have been first cultivated as long as 3,000 years ago in the Mediterranean. Among the ancient Romans, celery was considered an aphrodisiac. In later eras, it was touted for medicinal abilities and used to treat toothaches, anxiety, arthritis, and insomnia.
Now, we know more about why regular celery consumption is so healthy. Read on for five of its benefits.
Celery Helps Reduce Inflammation
Celery’s narrow green stalks are great sources of phytonutrients such as phenolic acids, luteolin, and quercetin. These antioxidants work within the body to inhibit inflammation and provide protection from serious conditions related to inflammation like some forms of cancer and arthritis. And a 2018 study at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences in Iran found that celery extract has an inhibitory effect on xanthine oxidase and serum uric acid levels, which can contribute to inflammation.1
Celery Promotes Better Digestion
High in both soluble and insoluble fiber, celery is a good choice for keeping your digestive tract running smoothly. Getting adequate fiber is important because it can prevent constipation and keep bowel movements regular. Celery also has a very high water content, which supports the digestive system as well. And celery was shown in a 2010 study at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to benefit the lining of the stomach and reduce the occurrence of stomach ulcers.2
Celery is Linked to Cancer Protection
Certain flavonoids present in celery may be powerful cancer fighters. Two in particular, apigenin and luteolin, have been shown in several investigations to provide some protection from one of the most-deadly forms of this disease, pancreatic cancer. A 2013 study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that when exposed to apigenin, the flavonoid killed pancreatic cancer cells by inhibiting a particular enzyme, glycogen synthase kinase-3 beta, which, if left uninhibited, helps make cancer cells immortal.3
Celery Provides Cardiovascular Support
Many of the benefits of celery to the heart are likely due in part to its anti-inflammatory properties that we mentioned earlier. But another heart-healthy aspect of celery comes from phthalides, which are phenolic substances in this vegetable. The phthalides in celery help relax the smooth muscles around blood vessels. As the blood vessels can expand further, blood pressure is lowered.
Celery Reduces the Risk of Hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol, is characterized by an overabundance of fats or lipids in the blood. This often asymptomatic condition is dangerous because it can make us more susceptible to heart disease and stroke. But a 2015 study at Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in Iran found that celery extract lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels effectively.4
When shopping for your celery, find the sturdiest stalks. If they are really fresh, they won’t have much bend. Look for leaves that are crisp and green, without yellow or brown discolorations. As for preparation, don’t cut it up too far in advance or your celery will lose many of its nutrients. You can, however, steam celery without losing too many nutrients. Just make sure you consume it within about five days of your purchase so it is at the peak of its freshness and quality.
Need some ideas for upping your celery intake? This vegetable goes very well in many soups, makes a great crunchy addition to salads, and is an excellent snack dipped in hummus or peanut butter.
- 1. Dolati, Karim; et al. "Inhibitory Effects of Apium graveolens on Xanthine Oxidase Activity and Serum Uric Acid Levels in Hyperuricemic Mice." Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 30 June 2018. Accessed 13 March 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6047868/.
- 2. Al-Howiriny, T.; et al. "Gastric antiulcer, antisecretory and cytoprotective properties of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats." Pharmaceutical Biology. July 2010. Accessed 13 March 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645778.
- 3. Johnson, Jodee L. and Gonzalez de Mejia, Elvira. "Flavonoid apigenin modified gene expression associated with inflammation and cancer and induced apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells through inhibition of GSK-3B/NF-kB signaling cascade." Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 14 August 2013. Accessed 14 March 2019. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/mnfr.201300307.
- 4. Dianat, Mahin; et al. "The effect of hydro-alcoholic celery (Apiumgraveolens) leaf extract on cardiovascular parameters and lipid profile in animal model of hypertension induced by fructose." Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. May-June 2015. Accessed 14 March 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4469955/.