Celery (Apiumgraveolens) is a low-calorie food known for its high water content. This green veggie is high in nutrients, can be found around the world, and has several health benefits. It contains useful antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help in treating many ailments. The addition of this crispy and crunchy vegetable to a regular diet may help reduce the risk of cancer, lower inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, and aid in digestion. In this article, we have discussed the health benefits of celery, its nutritional profile, and its potential side effects.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Benefits Of Celery?
1. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk
Celery is rich in antioxidants that help fight against cancer-promoting free radicals. It contains two bioactive flavonoids – apigenin and luteolin – that may kill cancer cells in the body (1). Apigenin is a chemopreventive agent, and its anti-carcinogenic properties destroy free radicals in the body to promote cancer cell death. It also promotes autophagy, a process through which the body removes dysfunctional cells that helps prevent disease (2).
The anticancer property of luteolin inhibits the cell proliferation process (3).
Celery is also said to possess bioactive polyacetylenes. These chemo-protective compounds have the potential to prevent numerous cancer formations (6).
2. May Lower Inflammation
Celery is replete with phytonutrient antioxidants that possess anti-inflammatory properties. A study conducted by Harbin Medical University (China) found that this vegetable is also an important source of flavonols (7). Another study conducted by Ohio State University found that celery juice or celery extracts also reduce the activity of certain proteins that are linked to inflammation (8). Celery seed extracts are said to possess anti-inflammatory properties (9).
Celery also contains a compound called luteolin that can prevent inflammation in the brain cells (10). A study conducted by King Saud University (Riyadh) on rats suggested that celery can inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) (11).
3. May Lower Blood Pressure Levels
Celery has been found to contain a phytochemical called phthalides, which relaxes the artery walls and increases blood flow. It also expands the smooth muscles in the blood vessels and helps lower blood pressure (12). An Iranian study conducted on rats attributed the antihypertensive properties of celery to the same phytochemical (13). Celery is also rich in nitrates that may help lower blood pressure (14). Other reviews of the phytochemical profile of celery seed extracts also indicate that it may lower blood pressure levels (15).
In traditional Chinese medicine, celery was often termed as a “cool” food that could lower blood pressure (16). Another study found that fresh celery juice mixed with vinegar is given to pregnant women in South Africa to lower their high blood pressure (17).
4. May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Celery is usually administered as an anti-hypertensive agent in traditional medicine. It could help maintain cardiovascular health. A study conducted in Iran found that celery leaf extract can improve numerous cardiovascular parameters like cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (bad cholesterol) (18).
Celery is high in polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits (19). However, more research is required to understand this benefit of celery in humans.
5. May Promote Neurogenesis And Prevent Memory Loss
Celery may reduce the risk of memory loss. A study conducted at the JiNan University (China) found that there is a link between luteolin (a flavonoid found in celery) and lower rates of age-related memory loss. Luteolin calms brain inflammation and may help in the treatment of neuroinflammatory disorders (20). Thus, it may also help reduce the risk of neurodegeneration.
Apigenin, a bioactive flavonoid found in celery, is believed to aid in neurogenesis (growth and development of nerve cells). However, this factor is yet to be proven in humans. Apigenin may also contribute to the health of neurons. However, research is unclear in this regard (21).
6. May Aid Digestion
Again, research is limited in this regard. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that celery may promote digestive health. The natural fiber found in celery makes it an important food for the digestive system. The soluble fiber in celery is fermented by the bacteria in the large intestine. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids, one of which (butyrate) promotes gastrointestinal health. Celery also contains insoluble fiber and may promote bowel movement.
7. May Improve Sex Life
Celery contains androstenone and androstenol, male hormones that are believed to stimulate sexual arousal in women. They have the potential to boost arousal by emitting scents that can make you more desirable (22).
A study conducted on male rats found that celery extracts enhance sexual performance (23). The dosage was found to increase sperm count in rats. It can even increase the secretion of testosterone (24). However, more research is required to verify this effect of celery in humans.
8. May Aid Weight Loss
Celery is low in calories and contains fiber that makes you feel full for longer periods. The insoluble fiber content of celery can increase satiety and aid weight loss. Celery’s high water content may also aid weight loss. It also regulates lipid metabolism (25).
It can also be consumed with other vegetables that have a higher energy density. Anecdotal evidence suggests that celery, being water-rich, may lower the energy density of other ingredients that it is paired with. This may promote weight loss.
9. May Help Treat Asthma
There is limited research here. Celery seeds are said to possess antifungal and antibacterial properties that could be useful in the treatment of asthma (26). However, more research is required to further understand this mechanism of celery.
10. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
Research is limited in this regard. Celery contains antioxidants called flavones, which have been studied for their role in lowering blood sugar levels (27). Some experts believe that the vitamin K in celery may have anti-diabetic properties. It may reduce inflammation and the associated insulin sensitivity, which may lead to improved glucose metabolism. However, there is no scientific evidence of the same.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that taking celery may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes may also be aggravated by Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that causes gastrointestinal issues. Since celery has the ability to fight this bacteria, it may also help in this regard. However, more research is required to prove this effect. A study conducted in Iran found that celery seed extract can control diabetes in rats (28). Thus, research on humans is required to prove the same.
11. May Boost Immunity
Celery contains vitamin C (29). This nutrient may boost immunity. The antioxidants in celery could also play a role in improving your immunity. It has been found that numerous cells of the immune system depend on vitamin C for optimal functioning and disease prevention (30). Vitamin C supplementation has also been found to increase the concentration of immunoglobulins in the blood, which are key compounds of the immune system (31). However, more research is required to understand this benefit of celery.
12. May Treat Kidney Stones
Celery essential oil contains luteolin and other essential compounds that could be used in the treatment of kidney stones (32). Furthermore, one of the main flavonoids in celery – apigenin – can break down calcium crystals found in kidney stones (33). However, further long-term research is required to understand this benefit of celery in humans.
13. May Improve Joint Health
Celery seed and related extracts possess anti-arthritic properties that may be useful in treating joint pains and gout (34). Joint pains usually occur due to the build-up of uric acid. One theory suggests that the diuretic properties of celery may help in the excretion of uric acid to potentially treat joint pains. As per a study conducted by University College (Ireland), celery seed oil is a good source of sedanolide. This compound could be used to treat inflammatory issues like gout and rheumatism (35).
14. May Relieve Menopause Symptoms
Certain plant compounds called phytoestrogens may help balance hormone levels. Foods rich in phytoestrogens have the potential to relieve menopausal symptoms in women (36). Celery contains phytoestrogens and could be beneficial in this regard (37). However, more concrete scientific evidence is required in this aspect.
15. May Help Treat Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses its pigment in certain areas, causing white patches. As per a study conducted in Poland, the furanocoumarins found in celery may help in the treatment of vitiligo (38).
Similar findings are believed to have been recorded in Atharva Veda, the sacred Indian book on Ayurvedic medicine. Generally, it offers hydration to the skin and may have been used since ancient times to treat vitiligo. However, more scientific research is needed to understand this benefit of celery.
Now that we know all about the health benefits of celery, let’s take a look at its nutritional profile.
Nutritional Profile Of Celery
Celery is a rich source of water and antioxidants that are helpful in maintaining your health. According to the U.S. Department Of Agriculture, 100 g of raw celery contains (29):
Water: 95.43 g
Energy: 14 kcal
Protein: 0.69 g
Fiber: 1.6 g
Carbohydrate: 2.97 g
Sugars: 1.34 g
Calcium: 40 mg
Potassium: 260 mg
Celery also contains vitamins A, C, and K, folate, essential minerals, and over a dozen other antioxidants. It is much lower in calories than other green veggies.
With that being said, let’s answer the big question.
How Much Celery Should I Eat A Day?
Celery is low in calories, so eating one or two stalks of raw celery or drinking 24 to 32 ounces of celery juice per day should be safe and healthy.
Celery leaf extract capsules at a dose of 250 mg, 3 times per day, are used in the treatment of blood glucose and insulin levels in elderly pre-diabetic patients (39).
In the following section, we have discussed how you can buy celery and store it the right way.
How To Buy And Store Celery
Picking the right celery and storing it properly can help you enjoy its benefits.
How To Buy
- You need to choose celery that is crisp and easily snaps off when pulled apart. It should also be light and compact, and not have stalks that are splaying out.
- The leaves must be pale to bright green. They must not have brown or yellow patches. You can separate the stalks and check for any black or brown discolorations.
- Ensure the celery does not have a seed stem (a seed stem indicates a bitter flavor). The seed stem resides in the place of the small, tender stalks at the center of the celery.
How To Store
- You can store celery in water. A large glass bowl or a plastic sealed container will do. Ensure you use plastic wrap on the glass bowl to seal it. Gather a fresh supply of water. It should be clean. Pick the celery that has straight and rigid stalks. Remove the stalks and strip the leaves. Cut the stalks in half and put them in the container or glass bowl. Fill the container with water. Make sure to seal the lid and keep it aside. Remember to change the water regularly or every alternate day.
- You can also wrap the celery tight in aluminum foil. You may then place the wrapped celery inside the refrigerator. You can reuse the same foil for several bunches of celery.
While snacking on a raw stalk is the simplest way to enjoy celery, you can also use it in other recipes. We have listed the most popular ones below.
How To Include Celery In Your Diet
Following are a few celery recipes that can help you include this magic vegetable in your diet:
1. Celery Soup
- Chopped celery head, 1
- Chopped large potato, 1
- Chopped medium onion, 1
- Unsalted butter stick, 1
- Salt, as required
- Low sodium chicken broth, 3 cups (you may avoid this if you are a vegetarian)
- Fresh dill, ¼ cup
- Heavy cream, ½ cup
- Celery leaves, as required
- Olive oil, as required
- Flaky sea salt
- Combine the celery head, potato, medium onion, and butter stick in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Use salt for seasoning.
- Stir cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the onion is tender.
- Add the 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth and simmer until the potatoes turn tender.
- Puree in a blender with ¼ cup of fresh dill and strain.
- Stir in ½ a cup of heavy cream.
- Serve the soup after topping it with celery leaves, olive oil, and flaky sea salt.
2. Celery Juice
- Celery sticks, 2
- Apple, 1
- Ginger, ¼ inch (optional)
- Lime or lemon, ¼
- Wash the celery sticks and apple thoroughly under running water.
- Cut the celery sticks into long pieces. Slice the apple.
- Excluding the lemon (or lime), process the remaining ingredients in a juicer.
- Collect the juice in a container. You can discard the pulp.
- Squeeze the lemon over the collected juice and stir properly.
- Transfer the juice into a tumbler and serve.
7. Celery Salad
- Sliced celery, ¾ cup
- Dried sweet cherries, 1/3 cup
- Thawed and frozen green peas, 1/3 cup
- Freshly chopped parsley, 3 tablespoons
- Chopped and toasted pecans, 1 tablespoon
- Fat-free mayonnaise, 1 ½ tablespoon
- Plain low-fat yogurt, 1 ½ tablespoon
- Fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ teaspoon
- Salt, 1/8 teaspoon
- Ground black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon
- In a medium bowl, combine the celery, cherries, peas, parsley, and pecans.
- Stir in the mayonnaise, yogurt, and lemon juice.
- Season using salt and pepper.
- You can chill the salad and serve.
Though celery is relatively healthy for most people, it could cause adverse effects in some. Research on these effects is limited. We have covered these effects in brief in the following section.
What Are The Side Effects Of Celery?
Consumption of celery may lead to several adverse effects in some people, including allergic reaction, bleeding and uterine contractions in pregnant women, and drug interactions. Excess consumption of celery may cause gas. However, limited research is available on the side effects of celery.
- May Cause An Allergic Reaction
Celery is a common allergen and may cause certain serious allergic reactions in some people. In case you are allergic to mugwort or birch pollen, chances are you may react to celery as well. A study conducted in Poland suggests that celery may cause severe anaphylactic shock (40). Symptoms can include swelling of the face, irritation, rashes, upset stomach, and dizziness. In extreme cases, the symptoms can include a drop in blood pressure levels and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking celery, stop the intake, and visit your doctor.
- Issues Regarding Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
Celery or celery seeds may induce bleeding and uterine contractions. Hence, pregnant women must avoid eating too much celery. It may also cause a miscarriage (41). There is not enough information available with respect to the consumption of celery in breastfeeding women. Hence, stay safe and avoid use.
- May Interact With Drugs
Celery may interact with blood clotting medications, like warfarin (42). It contains chemicals that may interact with anticoagulants (blood-thinning medications) and increase the risk of excessive bleeding.
Celery is a green vegetable with a low calorie and high nutrient content. From fighting cancer, inflammation, and improving heart health to treating vitiligo, this vegetable has many health benefits. It is known for its water content and is commonly found in many salads and soups. However, excess consumption of this healthy food may cause some adverse effects. Hence, limit its consumption and check with a doctor if you experience any side effects.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
Is celery good for your liver?
Yes, the intake of celery is good for your liver. A study conducted in Egypt suggests that celery leaves may reduce the risk of developing a liver disease, such as fatty liver disease (43).
Are celery and peanut butter good for you?
This combination makes for a low carb snack and provides all nutrients from the celery and plenty of protein and fats from the butter.
What is the best way to eat celery and get its maximum health benefit?
Eat fresh celery within five to seven days to get the maximum health benefits. Steamed celery also retains all its nutrients and is beneficial to health.
Where is celery grown?
Celery requires plenty of water, protection from high temperatures and the sun, and rich soil to grow. It is best grown in areas with loam soil.
Which part of celery do we eat?
You can eat almost every part of celery. All of its parts are edible, including the delicious green leaves, crisp stalks, seeds, and root.
Does celery grow back?
Yes, through vegetative propagation, the celery plant regenerates from the base and regrows.
What is the head of celery?
Celery grows in a collective unit of ribs that grow together. These ribs join at a common base which is referred to as the head of celery.
Can you eat the leaves of celery?
Yes, you can. Though usually thrown away, these leaves are delicious and nutritious. You can use them the way you would use any herb – mince them, chop them, or leave them as they are. You can add them to stocks, soups, sauces, and stir-fries.
How do you freeze celery?
- Pull the stalks of the celery apart and wash them under running water.
- Trim and cut the stalks till they are 1-inch long.
- Immerse them in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes to blanch them.
- Remove the celery, drain, and quickly immerse it in ice-cold water.
- Allow it to cool for 5 minutes and then drain it.
- Pack the celery in a Ziploc bag (with as little air as possible) and pop it into the freezer
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