Many people tend to think of celery as more of a garnish or accompaniment to food, but it is actually a nutritional powerhouse. It’s loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, 1 cup serving of chopped celery contains only 16 calories!
Celery is rich in vitamin K, necessary for regulating blood clotting. It also contains vitamin A, helpful in boosting the immune system and necessary for bone health, tissue repair, and maintenance of vision and overall eye health. Celery contains the micronutrients folate, potassium, manganese, sodium, calcium and magnesium. It has a high water content and contains 1.6 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving. Fiber helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract and prevent constipation.
- Helps Fight Cancer: The flavonoid, luteolin, which functions as an antioxidant, is thought to prevent the growth of cancer cells by inhibiting cell proliferation, metastasis, and angiogenesis.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: The phytochemicals, phthalides, relax the muscle tissue in artery walls, resulting in increased blood flow and lowered blood pressure. Eating as few as 4 stalks of celery a day may be helpful in lowering blood pressure!
- Reduces Inflammation: Celery also contains the flavonoid apigenin, which has anti-inflammatory properties that suppress the immune response. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for developing diseases such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, and cancer.
When purchasing celery, it should be crisp, firm, and easily snap when pulled apart. Look for ones that have pale or bright green leaves without any yellow or brown discoloration. Uncut celery can be safely stored in a plastic produce bag (squeeze out any excess air) and kept in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. To preserve the flavonoids and antioxidants, it is recommended to wait to cut the celery until ready to use.
Celery can be used in a variety of ways. Add to soups, stews, and stir-fries or top with peanut butter for a healthy snack. Here is one of my favorite recipes containing celery chopped in a salad!
Parmesan Celery Salad
- 8 large celery stalks, stripped of strings
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
- 1 ½ Cups / 10 oz cooked cannellini or garbanzo beans, heated
- 3 Tablespoons currants (or golden raisins)
- ½ Cup / 1 ½ oz sliced almonds, deeply toasted
- Sea salt
- Freshly chopped herbs (or herb flowers), or reserved celery leaves
- Slice the celery stalks quite thinly – 1/8-inch or so. Then, in a small bowl, make a paste with the olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl toss the heated beans with the olive oil-lemon juice-parmesan mixture.
- When well combined, add the celery, currants, and most of the almonds. Toss once more.
- Taste and add a bit of salt if needed. Serve in a bowl or platter topped with herb flowers and/or celery leaves.
Lin Y, Shi R, Wang X, Shen HM. Luteolin, a flavonoid with potential for cancer prevention and therapy. Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2008; 8(7):634-46.
Madhavi D, Kagan D, Venkatesh R, Murray MT. A pilot study to evaluate the antihypertensive effect of a celery extract in mild to moderate hypertensive patients. Natural Medicine Journal. 2013. Accessed March 6, 2014. http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?article=417
SFGate. How nutritious is Celery? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutritious-celery-3387.html. Accessed March 6, 2014.
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Celery. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=14. Accessed March 6, 2014.