What is celery good for?

Homily on celery
Botanical name: Apium graveolens

Celery Nutrition Facts

A crunchy snack all by itself, celery is a versatile vegetable that can be used for numerous culinary purposes, from salads to stock.1 It's a direct descendant of wild celery and a member of the Apiaceae family, along with parsnips, fennel and parsley, which are characterized by their hollow stems, taproots and umbels.2 

Celeriac or knob celery (A. graveolens rapaceum) is an example, and is known for its celery flavor but with a dash of turnip mixed in.4 Each year, the U.S. produces a billion pounds of celery, with 80% of production from California, Michigan and Florida.3

Because celery has high water content, it requires fertile, organic soil.5 This may explain why this plant's origin has been traced from the Mediterranean region, Asia Minor, the Caucasus region and the Himalayas.6 Pascal is the celery variety most often grown in the United States.7

Celery is a cool-weather crop, so it's best planted early in climates where the winter gets cold, but it can be planted as a summer crop in the far north and as a fall crop everywhere else.8 Because the seeds are tiny, it’s advised to mix them with sand and then sprinkling them on top of your garden soil. Sunlight exposure should be around six hours, and the ground should be kept consistently moist.9

Celery is a great addition to salads or soups.10 It may also be added to stir fry dishes along with other vegetables.11 However, when celery is boiled or blanched (dipped in boiling water), its antioxidant capacity drastically reduces. To keep its benefits intact, steaming is the best method,12 which can help retain 83% to 99% of the antioxidants celery is known to be loaded with.13 You can refrigerate raw celery for seven days, but wrapping it in aluminum foil may help extend the lifespan by another two weeks.14

Health benefits of celery

In case you didn't notice it in the nutritional profile, celery is incredibly low in calories — only 16 per one-cup serving. This is one reason why it's so popular for helping with weight management15 The reputation celery has for being a "negative calorie" food may actually be deserved.16 At the same time, celery is worth its weight in fiber, which moves food through the digestive tract more quickly, and therefore helps lower your risk for colon cancer.17 Fiber may also help curb obesity and diabetes.18

An interesting tidbit about this vegetable concerns the many different vitamins and minerals it offers : A single-cup serving provides 9% each of the daily values in vitamin A and folate, 7% of the potassium and between 2% to 5% in manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium in the minerals category. In vitamins: vitamin C, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavinVitamin K plays the most dramatic role — 37% of the daily value per cup.19

Celery is a rich source of flavonoids like zeaxanthin and lutein,20 which studies have shown to help in age-related macular degeneration.21 The vegetable may also help decrease the intensity of lipid peroxidation.22 Antioxidants in celery include natural phenolic dihydrostilbenoids, such as lunularin and furanocoumarins like bergapten and psoralen.23 The flavonols quercetin24 and kaempferol25 also are present.

Celery seeds also contain a number of little-known volatile oils, such as terpenes (which consists mostly of limonene).26 The compound 3-n-butyl phthalide has been shown to help limit the rise of cholesterol levels in genetically hypercholesterolaemic rats.27 Coumarin derivatives in celery have also been suggested to be a possible strategy to help manage cigarette-smoking behavior, which may help protect the lungs of smokers in the long run.28

Below are more nutrition facts about celery.29 Don't miss this celery-related article as well: “Top benefits of celery juice.”

Celery nutrition facts

Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 14  
Calories from Fat 0 g  
Total Fat 0.17 g  
Saturated Fat 0.042 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 80 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 2.97 g  
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g  
Sugar 1.34 g  
Protein 0.69 g  
Vitamin A 449 IU Vitamin C 3.1 mg
Calcium 40 mg Iron 0.20 mg

Studies on celery

Memory loss may be managed with the addition of celery to the diet, according to a 2010 study at the University of Illinois. Luteolin, a nutrient in celery, was tested on 2-year-old mice and withheld from mice aged 3 to 6 months. Results showed that the expected brain inflammation and subsequent memory loss in the older mice were not present. In fact, they performed learning and memory tasks better than the younger mice. Scientists believe the data suggests that the luteolin content in celery may also boost memory and halt age-related brain inflammation in humans to result in better cognitive health.30

The apigenin in celery and parsley was shown to dramatically inhibit breast cancer cells in a celebrated study done at the University of Missouri. Scientists found apigenin shrank a certain breast cancer tumor stimulated by progestin, a synthetic hormone taken by women for menopausal symptoms.31

While apigenin was shown to be the natural flavonoid compound responsible for inhibiting breast cancer cells, it had not been tested against pancreatic cancer. Scientists undertook the study, noting that many chemotherapeutic agents had been used to treat pancreatic cancer without success. At the conclusion, apigenin was reported as having the ability to inhibit growth in four pancreatic cancer cell lines.32

Celery healthy recipes:
Dandelion greens with celeriac and tangerine salad

Celery Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

1 bunch chopped dandelion or spinach greens

1 medium lime, juiced

1/8 tsp. sea salt

1 medium celeriac, shredded

10 medium basil leaves, chopped finely

1 medium tangerine, sliced

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

 

Dressings:

1 medium tangerine, juiced

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. lime juice

¼ tsp. tangerine zest

1 tsp. honey (optional)

 

Procedure:

  1. Wash and chop the dandelion leaves in half-inch pieces and discard tough ends. Pour lime juice into the chopped leaves and add the salt.
  2. Massage the dandelion leaves with the lime juice and salt for up to 3 minutes or until the leaves are wilted.
  3. Add the shredded celeriac, basil leaves and tangerine. Add the toasted pine nuts and mix everything together.

This recipe makes four servings.

(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Joseph Mercola)

Celery fun facts

Celery was reportedly first used as a medicine during the 9th century in Europe. It was only in 1623 in France the vegetable began to appear in culinary creations, but only for flavorings. After almost 200 years, colonists brought the vegetable to America, with earliest records dating to 1806.33

Summary

Aromatic and crispy, celery is one of the most widely enjoyed veggies on the planet. This green garden offering is great in salads, stir fries, soups, or all by itself, and is also highly nutritious.

For centuries, Ayurvedic medicine has used celery and celery seed as a treatment for various disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, inflammation and gastric ulcers.34 Today, it's known as a diuretic, which may help treat colic.35 Studies also indicate its effectiveness in deflecting mosquitoes, but eating it is the real key.36

You can count on celery to lower oxidative stress and help clear the digestive system. Studies also found that the apigenin in celery has the ability to lower the risk of cancer,37 and the luteolin to heart health.38 These benefits alone are good reasons to up your celery intake.


References: