Celery: An often overlooked nutritional powerhouse.
Apparently it takes more calories to chew a stick of celery than the stick contains, which is why dieters have always favored this vegetable and use it as an alternative to chips or crackers. The U shape makes a celery stick an excellent low calorie vehicle for dips and spreads, but did you know it’s also a Chinese herb known for it’s cooling, anti-inflammatory properties?
Celery is unusual in that it contains a highly absorbable source of sodium which may be the reason that it is so surprisingly healing. It also is high in vitamin C and several other active compounds that promote health, including phthalides, which help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and coumarins, that are useful in cancer prevention.
Celery for high blood pressure
Celery is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat high blood pressure and modern research agrees finding that the the phthalides in celery relax the muscle tissue in artery walls and therefore increase blood flow.
Even though it has a high sodium content, celery is still is high on the list of vegetables doctors recommend to patients suffering from hypertension because of it’s proven ability to lower blood pressure.
Celery for lowering cholesterol
Animal studies have shown that celery can increase bile acid secretion and so lower cholesterol
Celery for bone and joint health
Celery is a great source of silicon which is an important nutrient for connective tissue. Due to this silicon content celery can help to renew bones, joints and arteries.
Celery as a hangover cure
In ancient Rome they used to wear celery around their neck as a way of warding off a hangover after a night of debauchery. Some people suggest that this is the reason we put a celery stick in a Bloody Mary. I’m not sure wearing celery has much health benefit but I do think the high water content, vitamin C and the fact that celery is high in both sodium and potassium make it a good vegetable to choose if you’ve been drinking.
Celery for cancer prevention
Celery contains compounds called coumarins that help prevent free radicals from damaging cells, thus decreasing the mutations that increase the potential for cells to become cancerous. However that’s not all, celery also contains acetylenics a compound that has been shown in research to stop the growth of cancer cells and phenolic acids which block the cancer promoting actions of prostaglandins.
A word of warning
Researchers consistently place celery on the list of vegetables that are most likely to be contaminated with pesticides so it’s best if you can find an organic source of this vegetable or at the very least wash it carefully with a fruit and vegetable wash.
Suggestions for enjoying celery.
- I like celery in juice and often combine it with green leafy vegetables and apples to make a nutritious green drink.
- Try this chunky chick pea spread on wholegrain toast
- Chopped celery adds a satisfying crunch to stir fries
- I always add celery stalks to casseroles because it adds to the depth of flavor
- Why not braise celery and serve it as a vegetable side dish
- Celery combines beautifully with apples and walnuts for a crunchy salad.