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Powerful Health Benefits Of Celery: 13 Reasons To Crunch it Up!

Health Benefits Of Celery

Celery is a nutritious vegetable with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It protects against stomach ulcers, eases fever, and helps manage blood sugar, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It can soothe an upset stomach, improve sexual health in men, ease arthritis, boost memory and mood, and even protect against Parkinson’s disease.

Known as much for its health benefits as its crispy texture, celery is a favorite among health buffs. And though this veggie is almost a kitchen staple today, it was originally used as a medicine rather than food. Celery or Apium graveolens has plenty to offer as an aromatic herb or vegetable, whether you use its leaves or stalks. The seeds of celery are also a flavorsome spice that features in many traditional remedies. The bioactive components in the seeds vary a bit from the rest of the plant and that brings many other benefits of their own.

Here’s what you stand to gain when you chomp down on this refreshing vegetable.

1. Is Rich In Nutrients

Did you know? The root vegetable commonly called “celery root” is not actually the root of crunchy celery. It comes from the celeriac plant, which is a member of the same family of vegetables.1

Celery is known to be a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food. One serving (110 gm) of this crunchy veggie will give you 1.8 gm of fiber. It also provides a rich mix of vitamins and minerals at just 15 kcal.

Here are some of the major nutrients present in a serving of celery and the percentage of your daily value (DV) requirement it meets:

  • Vitamin K: 32.2 mcg (26.8% DV)
  • Folate: 40 mcg (10% DV)
  • Potassium: 286 mg (6% DV)
  • Vitamin B2: 0.063 mg (4.8% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.081 mg (4.7% DV)
  • Calcium: 44 mg (3.3% DV)2 3

2. Has Protective Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Celery can help you fight inflammation as well as counteract the harmful effects of free radicals. These free radicals which damage your DNA and cells are produced not only when your body converts food into energy, but also when you expose it to pollution, alcohol, tobacco, refined and processed foods etc. Oxidative stress from free radicals can damage your health and lead to diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Persistent inflammation is another fallout if your body is constantly in fight mode due to factors like a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, bad eating habits, stress, or smoking and drinking.4 5 Celery can help fight both of these – it has anti-inflammatory properties and also contains compounds like caffeic acid, apigenin, p-coumaric acid, saponin, ferulic acid, luteolin, tannin, and kaempferol with powerful antioxidant properties that counter free radicals.6 7

3. Is A Good Addition To Your Weight-Loss Regimen

If weight loss or weight management is on your mind, it is worth incorporating celery in your diet. Its crunchy texture, high water content, and fiber fill you up easily and keep you feeling full for longer – without adding too many calories. While it is definitely low calorie, celery’s reputation as a “negative calorie food” is a bit of a myth, though – the act of chewing and gulping down celery does not really burn more calories than it provides.8

4. Eases Fever

Down with a fever? Count on celery to bring down your temperature. Animal studies confirm celery’s antipyretic ability – a celery leaf extract helped significantly reduce an induced fever in the subjects. The researchers suggested that a compound known as methoxsalene present in celery could be responsible for this effect.9 Some celery soup might just be the ticket if you have been worn down by a fever.

5. Protects Against Stomach Ulcers

Chomping on a celery stalk after a meal can help keep your teeth healthy. It helps to get rid of food particles from your teeth and also neutralize tooth-decaying acid.10

The gnawing pain caused by stomach ulcers can make anyone miserable. But celery may be able to help tackle this condition. Animal studies have found that the stem and leaves of celery can suppress gastric acid production and protect the mucous membrane lining your stomach.11 The antioxidant property of celery is thought to play a role here. Research also indicates that celery seeds can inhibit Helicobacter pylori, bacteria that commonly cause stomach ulcers as well as gastritis.12

6. Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes, a disease that can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye problems, is estimated to afflict about 9.4% of Americans. Even more worryingly, it appears to be a growing problem, with around 84.1 million people in the US suffering from prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar is abnormally high but not high enough to qualify as diabetes.13 Celery can help tackle this condition. One study that looked at people with prediabetes found that taking a celery leaf extract thrice a day, half an hour before their meals, for 12 days, reduced both pre-prandial blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose by 9.8% and 19.5%, respectively. Flavonoids such as kaempferol and quercetin present in celery may account for these beneficial effects, helping by:

  • Increasing the production of beta cells in the pancreas and protecting them from oxidative stress
  • Stimulating insulin secretion and reducing insulin resistance
  • Controlling glucose metabolism in the liver
  • Reducing glucose levels in the blood14 15

Celery seeds have also been seen to have an antidiabetic effect, helping boost insulin secretion and glucose metabolism in the liver.16

7. Lowers Blood Pressure

1 out of 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure and this condition can lead to serious complications such as kidney disease, heart failure, stroke, and heart disease.17 An animal study found that a diuretic compound present in celery called 3-n-butyl phthalide (NBP) and was able to decrease blood pressure by 12–14%. It is thought to help by relaxing the smooth muscles which line the blood vessels. If you extrapolate the result of this animal study to humans, it would mean that you need to consume around 4 stalks of celery to get a comparable dose of NBP.18

These findings are especially interesting because many traditional diets curtail the use of celery for hypertensive people because of its sodium content. So what’s the bottom line? While adding celery to your mix of 5 servings of veggies and fruits a day can help keep blood pressure levels under control according to these research findings, remember to limit your daily consumption of sodium to 2,300 mg too. For your reference, a serving (110 gm) of celery will give you 88 mg of sodium.19 20

8. Helps Manage Cholesterol Levels

Hyperlipidemia or high cholesterol/triglyceride levels can mean an increased risk for atherosclerosis, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, and heart attack.21 But celery can help manage your cholesterol levels too. An animal study confirmed celery’s lipid-lowering effect, with the leaf extracts significantly reducing total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels. While this effect is usually attributed to NBP in celery, the study also found that celery extracts without this component had a cholesterol-lowering effect. This suggests that other bioactive compounds might also be involved in bringing about this beneficial effect.22 23

Celery seeds have also been found to help manage cholesterol levels by lowering LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol in animal studies.24

9. Helps Ease Inflammatory Conditions Like Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease that causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints.25 Celery may be able to help tackle this condition thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory effect. Research also shows that celery stem contains a compound known as mannitol which has exhibited anti-inflammatory effects in animal models of arthritis. So go ahead and snack on this crunchy vegetable to fight arthritis from within.26

10. Fights Digestive Problems

Animal studies show that celery leaf extract has an antispasmodic effect on the small intestine, helping it tackle diarrhea and stomach cramps.27 Celery’s fiber content can help your bowels movements and keep constipation in check. It is also considered a good remedy for heartburn.

Celery seeds are recommended in ayurveda for treating indigestion and flatulence. How do you use them? Just add 3–5 gm of the powdered seeds to a glass of buttermilk or lukewarm water and drink up.28

11. May Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

Polyacetylenes found in celery may also have a protective effect against some cancers.29 Animal studies also show that celery seed oil may also have a chemopreventive effect, helping inhibit the formation of tumors and reduce the risk of cancer.30

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by the loss of nerve cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. But animal studies indicate that celery can have a protective effect and fend off the condition. One study observed that celery extract, from the stem, leaves, and roots, was able to improve behavioral impairments, oxidative stress parameters, and protect dopaminergic neurons in a Parkinson’s disease model induced in mice. Beneficial compounds such as apigenin and luteolin present in celery might be responsible for this neuroprotective effect.31

12. Boosts Mood And Memory

Animal studies show that that celery has an antidepressant effect and improves memory. This super healthy veggie might help you tackle depression by influencing biochemical changes that impact the MAO-A neurotransmitter system which plays a role in mood disorders. Meanwhile, research also shows that a compound called luteolin which is present in celery improves spatial memory by impacting inflammation mediated by microglial cells in your brain. This kind of inflammation is associated with memory problems.32 The extract of the whole plant was used for the study.33

13. Improves Sexual Health In Men

Celery has been used traditionally to treat sexual problems like impotency. But while its ability to tackle erectile dysfunction is not clear, animal studies do show that that celery leaf extract can increase the production of sperm and may even be beneficial for certain sperm fertility parameters.34

Treat Yourself To Celery Sticks, Juice, And More – But In Moderation!

A versatile veggie, celery works well in salads and as an appetizer. You can also use it to add a dollop of flavor to sauces, bakes, or curries. Or blitz up a delicious celery juice or soup for a shot of valuable nutrients. Research shows that compared to blanching or boiling, steaming helps celery retain more antioxidants.35 Make sure that you have celery within a few days of getting them as the nutrient content tends to wane considerably after 5–7 days.

Celery tends to be exposed to a lot of pesticides while being farmed, so do remember to wash it thoroughly before use. According to an Environmental Working Group report, you ingest as many as 67 pesticides if you eat non-organic celery! Your safest bet, therefore, is to pick up organic celery.36

While celery is definitely nutritious and good for you, remember to follow the old adage of practicing moderation in all things. Having celery daily for long periods may mess with the absorption of iodine in your body and interfere with your thyroid function. In fact, it’s always better to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get a good mix of nutrients and benefits from these. Some people may also have an allergic reaction to celery, so be sure to check how your body reacts to it. People who have birch-mugwort allergies may have a problem with celery too.37

References   [ + ]

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14, 16. Yusni, Yusni, Hendra Zufry, Firdalena Meutia, and Krishna W. Sucipto. “The effects of celery leaf (apium graveolens L.) treatment on blood glucose and insulin levels in elderly pre-diabetics.” Saudi medical journal 39, no. 2 (2018): 154.
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29. Purup, Stig, Eric Larsen, and Lars P. Christensen. “Differential effects of falcarinol and related aliphatic C17-polyacetylenes on intestinal cell proliferation.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 57, no. 18 (2009): 8290-8296.
30. Zheng, Guo‐qiang, Patrick M. Kenney, Jilun Zhang, and Luke KT Lam. “Chemoprevention of benzo [a] pyrene‐induced forestomach cancer in mice by natural phthalides from celery seed oil.” (1993): 77-86.
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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.