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Celery: Health Benefits, Nutrients, Side Effects and More..

Health benefits of celery

If you decided to add celery to your diet, probably it would have nothing to do with its taste. After all, as most of us know; crunchy, crispy celery doesn’t please many people’s palates due to its mild (sometimes strong) and earthy taste.

However, can celery offer some health benefits that can be strong enough to convince you to add this vegetable to your diet despite its mild and somewhat peppery flavour? Well, to answer this question you should know the health benefits that celery offers to your body.

Recent scientific studies and globally-known nutritionists suggest that regular consumption of celery can contribute to the human body in different ways. In this article, we are going to look at the evidence-based and potential health benefits of celery.

But, remember although our main focus will be these health benefits, we will also talk about other pertinent details about celery such as nutrition facts, potential side-effects, best storage conditions so on and so forth.

It is important to underline that this article will be comprehensive and long enough to provide you with every necessary detail you may want to know about celery. And, that unavoidably makes this article deep and long.

In case you may not want to read everything in this article, we added a ” table of contents below”. So,  you can skip ahead to the section that interests you most by clicking the headings presented in the table.

Facts About Celery

Celery is a marshland plant that belongs to the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family, like carrot (1),(2).

This green crunchy vegetable is most famous for its pretty low-calorie count.

Many people tend to throw away celery leaves. If you are one of them keep in mind that all parts of celery are edible, including leaves (3),(4).

Celery has been used for thousands of years and presumably going back to 4,000 B.C. Ancient civilisations are known to use celery to add flavour to dishes and also to treat certain ailments (5),(6).

Records and historians suggest that celery is native to the Middle East and The Mediterranean areas (5),(6)

 

Nutrition Facts of Celery

In this section, we will be looking at the nutritional profile of celery.

However, before examining the nutrients that are available in celery, it is important to underline the fact that 95% of the whole vegetable is made up of water. Allegedly, this water level makes celery the second most water-dense vegetable (7).

Since 95% of the vegetable is water, you may think that celery is not rich in nutrients. However, its nutritional profile is not as poor as you would think. In fact, celery is rather rich in some essential nutrients and is very rich in antioxidants.

Celery is an amazing source of vitamin K and fibre. Moreover, it is also a decent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. It bears repeating that celery is extremely low in calories.

The table below displays the nutrients available in 100 gr raw celery (8) :

NUTRITIONAMOUNTDAILY VALUE
Calories16.0 (67.0 kJ)1%
Dietary Fiber1.6 g6%
Vitamin A449 IU9%
Vitamin C3.1 mg5%
Vitamin K29.3 mcg37%
Vitamin B0.1 mg4%
Folate36.0 mcg9%
Calcium40.0 mg4%
Magnesium11.0 mg3%
Potassium260 mg7%
Manganese0.1 mg5%
Water95.4 g

 

Potential and Proven Health Benefits of Celery

Now that we have examined the nutritional profile of celery, it is time to focus on its health benefits. The below-given benefits can convince you to add this nutritious vegetable to your diet, if not included yet.

Without further ado, here are the 9 health benefits of celery.

 

1- Celery Improves Digestion


The title is ” Celery Improves Digestion “. The question is how?

Celery can contribute to your digestion in many ways. However, above all, this crunchy vegetable improves digestion as it contains fibre.

Fibre is, no doubt, one of the most important nutrients for the digestive system. Gastroenterologist Lisa Ganjhu (D.O) explains the importance of fibre for digestive health with these words ” Fibre helps to keep the digestive tract flowing, by keeping your bowel movements soft and regular.” (9).

As mentioned above celery is a decent source of both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Not only celery’s fibre content though, its high water content as well contributes to the digestion process. It bears repeating; celery is 95% water.

And, lastly, the rich antioxidant content of celery helps keep the digestive organs healthy.

In an animal study, researchers found that celery extract – thanks to its rich antioxidant content – provides protection to the gastric mucosa, thus, decreasing stomach ulcer risk (10).

Summary: in light of the above-given information, it is necessary to say that celery brings health to your digestive system when consumed in moderation and regularly.

 

2- May Reduce Cancer Risk


As scientists always emphasise; there is no single food that can prevent cancer alone! While this is totally accurate; it doesn’t mean that certain foods do not lower the RISK of cancer with specific nutrients and compounds they contain. Celery might be one of these foods that MAY lower cancer risks.

The reason that celery is associated with reduced cancer risk is heavily related to its rich antioxidant content. Let’s cite a couple of scientific studies that can enlighten us about this issue.

A 2013 study suggests that flavonoids namely apigenin and luteolin, which also exist in celery, have a protective effect on pancreatic cancer (11).

In another study published in the Current Cancer Drug Targets, researchers suggested that luteolin could have an anticancer property for various cancers (12).

Also, in another (Vivo rat) study researchers from the University of Missouri found that parsley and celery contain a compound that can prevent some breast cancer tumour cells from multiplying and growing (13).

Summary: Celery contains some chemical compounds that may lower certain cancer risks and also may stop the growth of cancer. 

 

3- A Healthy Snack for Diabetics


The high fibre content and low glycemic index of celery are the main reasons why we define celery as a suitable diet choice for people with diabetes.

So, how do high fibre content and low glycemic index of celery help people with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels?

Let’s start with fibre. According to Mayo Clinic: fibre, particularly soluble fibre, can slow the absorption of sugar and thus preventing abrupt blood sugar spikes (14).

Thanks to fibre’s blood sugar-regulating effect, people with diabetes are suggested to add fibre-rich foods – such as celery – to their diet.

Another reason that makes celery potentially suitable for diabetic people is that this vegetable has a very low glycemic index.

For those who don’t know: the glycemic index indicates how fast food raises blood sugar. The glycemic index of celery is around 32, which is considered low (15).

Summary: It appears that celery is a healthy snack for people with diabetes. Nevertheless, we always encourage people who suffer from diabetes to work with their nutritionists or doctors to determine the most suitable diet for themselves. That minimises the potential diabetes complications that may occur due to wrong food choices.

 

4- Celery Lowers Blood Pressure


If you suffer from high blood pressure, the good news is celery may help you lower your blood pressure with its potassium, fibre and phthalides (a phytochemical ) content.

Let’s start with potassium and its effects on blood pressure. Potassium helps your body to remove excess sodium and also helps ease tension in the blood walls, thus lowering blood pressure (16).

Please note that 100 gr celery meets almost 10 % of the daily potassium needs.

Fibre, on the other hand, is claimed to lower blood pressure. Although it was an animal study, researchers found that fibre decreases arterial blood pressure in rats (17). As repeatedly indicated above, celery is a decent source of fibre.

Above all, celery’s blood pressure reducing effect is attributed to its phthalides content. According to Cleveland Clinic; celery extract relaxes the tissue of the artery wall and reduces blood pressure (18).

Summary: The fact is that diet plays an important role in regulating blood pressure. Celery, in our case, can help you control your blood pressure with its potassium, fibre and phthalides content. 

 

5-  May Improve Memory


Here is one of the potential health benefits of celery. Recent studies and globally-known medical experts such as Dr Oz suggest that celery has the potential to improve brain functions (19).

According to Dr Oz; celery may help lower destructive inflammation in the brain’s memory centre thanks to its flavonoid content. And, that in turn may protect individuals against dementia (19).

In a study, researchers examined the effect of celery extract on dementia and Alzheimer’s. The findings; showed promising potential effects on people with dementia and Alzheimer’s (20).

Moreover, a 2017 rodent study found that Apium graveolens (celery seed) consumption may prevent age-related cognitive decline and also may improve neuronal density (21).

Summary: Certain chemical compounds in celery may improve brain functions and also protect the brain against memory disorders. 

 

6- Celery May Reduce Inflammation


If you suffer from chronic inflammation and related diseases like arthritis, bowel disease or osteoporosis, you might get benefit from celery consumption.

If you are asking how, here is the answer. Consuming foods that have anti-inflammatory effects is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation in the body.

The good news is that celery is very rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. According to Healthline; this green vegetable contains approximately 25 anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the human body.

Summary: The consumption of celery and celery extract may reduce inflammation with its high anti-inflammatory content.

 

7- Aids Weight Loss


Given celery is high in fibre and water and also is very low in calories, it is safe to say that celery can help you lose weight.

As indicated above, celery has 16 calories in 100 gr. That alone makes this veggie quite ideal for weight loss.

However, more importantly, celery contains a high amount of water and a decent amount of fibre.

Regular consumption of fibre is found to help weight loss (22). Simply, dietary fibre can keep you full for long hours, thus preventing you from eating excess calories.

Water, on the other hand, can suppress appetite and may improve metabolism. Both of these factors can speed up weight loss (23).

Summary: if you are to lose weight, you may consider adding celery into your diet.

 

8-May Improve The Immune System


Anymore, most of us know the importance of a healthy diet when it comes to keeping the immune system strong. If you desire to boost your immune system via eating a healthy diet, celery can be a sensible choice as its rich in antioxidants.

Vitamin A and vitamin C are known to have antioxidant properties and support immune functions (24), (25).

However, it would be misleading to say that celery is extremely rich in both vitamin A and vitamin C. The fact is this green vegetable provides both of these immune-boosting nutrients in small quantities.

But, these are not the only antioxidants in celery that can support your immune functions. As mentioned above, celery contains approximately 25 different antioxidants. And, these various antioxidants can give your immune system a boost.

Summary: Celery may support your immune functions and help your body to stay strong against disease-causing pathogens.

 

9- Prevents Dehydration


As we repeatedly said in this article, celery contains an excessive amount of water. To be more precise, 95 % of the vegetable is water.

So, how can you get benefits from celery’s rich water content?

For instance, if you are one of those who don’t drink a sufficient amount of water, celery consumption may help you compensate for this deficit and may reduce the risk of certain health problems that may occur due to long-term insufficient water intake.

Summary: This green crunchy vegetable provides your body with an excellent amount of water.

 

Does Celery Lose Nutrients When Cooked?

Thus far, we have talked about the nutrients available in celery and how these nutrients bring benefits to your health. Did you know some of these nutrients – mainly antioxidants – can be lost when celery is cooked?

Celery can lose some of its nutrients when cooked. Though, it heavily depends on the cooking method.

So, which cooking method is best to retain the most nutrients in celery? To answer these questions, let’s refer to a study where the researchers tested different cooking methods and determined how cooking affects the nutrition profile of celery. 

In the study, three different methods namely; steaming, boiling and blanching were examined. Blanching for 3 minutes, steaming and boiling for 10 minutes.

The results of the study showed that (26):

  • 10 minutes of boiling caused the most antioxidants loss
  • 3 minutes of blanching caused fewer nutrients reduction than boiling, but still a significant amount!
  • 10 minutes of steaming nearly didn’t cause any antioxidant loss. Roughly 90% of antioxidants are retained in celery after steaming.

Summary: The fact is that raw celery contains more nutrients than cooked one. If you are going to cook anyway, keep in mind steaming is the best cooking method in terms of retaining the most possible nutrients in celery.

 

How to Store Celery?

Experts from World’s Healthiest Foods give us an insight into how to best store celery. According to them, the followings are the important points to storing celery (27):

  • You can store celery for 5-7 days in a plastic produce bag in the refrigerator after squeezing out the extra air and closing the bag. Unless the head of celery is cut it doesn’t create a health risk in this period.

 

  • Storing celery for 5-7 days in a refrigerator is thought to be ideal for protecting celery’s freshness. Longer than 7 days can cause a significant antioxidant loss in celery, according to studies.

 

  • Wait to chop up celery just before adding it to, for instance, a salad or dishes to retain its flavonoid content instead of chopping the celery night before and leaving it in the refrigerator.

 

  • If you have to chop up celery a day before you consume it, then store it in the refrigerator by using hard plastic or a glass container instead of using a plastic produce bag. It may slow down the loss of some nutrients.

 

How Much Celery is Safe to Eat Everyday

As we all know too much of a good thing is bad. And, there is no doubt it applies to celery as well. That means eating celery or drinking its juice excessively will pose health risks.

It brings us to the question ” how much celery is safe to eat or drink a day ?”.

At the outset, it is necessary to say that you can eat or drink celery every day in moderation.

Given the fact that it’s low in calories, eating no more than two stalks of raw celery would be enough to reap the benefits.

 

Potential Side Effects of Celery?

Celery consumption is safe for most people. However, it may cause some side effects in some people. Here are the potential side effects of celery.

  • Celery Allergy: In some people, celery can trigger allergic reactions whose symptoms can range from hives, and swelling to breathing difficulties. If you are allergic to mugwort or birch pollen, that means you are very likely to be allergic to celery as well (28), (29).

 

  • Pesticides: Experts indicate that celery is among fresh produce that is more likely to contain pesticides (30). Consumption of pesticide chemicals can cause certain health problems. So, make sure you wash celery thoroughly before eating it.

 

  • Digestive Problems: As mentioned above, celery contains a decent amount of fibre. While it is healthy for your body, excess consumption of it may bring digestive ailments such as bloating, stomach growling or diarrhoea.

 

  • Blood Clotting: Celery is a vegetable that is extremely rich in vitamin K, as we indicated above. More precisely, vitamin K meets almost 40% of daily vitamin K needs. Yet, if you are using a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, celery may interfere with the effectiveness of this medication due to its high vitamin K level. So, if you have a blood clotting problem and therefore use a prescribed blood-thinning drug, speak to your doctor about your diet, including celery (30),(31),(32).

 

  • Kidney Problems: In fact, celery may contribute to your kidney health unless you have a kidney problem. However, if you have any kidney disorder then celery may not be ideal for you. This downside of celery stems from its high oxalates content, which can cause kidney problems including kidney stones. Talk to your doctor about celery consumption if you have any kidney disorders (33).

 

Conclusion


In this long, thorough and informative article we have discussed the evidence-based and potential health benefits of celery.

It appears this green crunchy vegetable can contribute to your health in many ways with its rich nutrient content, low-calorie count as well as with its high water content.

Nonetheless, as we always say ” whatever you drink or eat, make sure you consume in moderation regardless of how healthy it is”. In this way, you can reap the full benefits.