Celery is a crunchy, low calorie vegetable with a unique flavor that noticeably changes when cooked. With loads of fiber and phytonutrients that fight against inflammation and cardiovascular disease, celery is a vegetable that should be consumed regularly in a heart healthy diet. While many believe that celery is a negative calorie food, meaning that more calories are burned rather than gained when consuming celery, this is a common myth.

Disease/Ailments:

Elevated blood cholesterol
Inflammation related disorders: Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis
Cancer prevention
Digestive disorders
Cardiovascular disease prevention

Health benefits:

Antioxidant: Celery is an important source of conventional antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene (provitamin A), and manganese as well as phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, flavones, and flavonols. These antioxidants decrease the oxidative damage to body fats and blood vessel walls, which is beneficial in cardiovascular disease prevention.

Anti-inflammatory: The phytochemicals in celery helps prevent inflammation in the digestive tract and blood vessels by decreasing the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation.

Digestive tract support: Celery contains pectin-based polysaccharides that can provide the stomach with producing anti-inflammatory benefits. Celery extracts contain apiuman, which has been shown to improve the integrity of the stomach lining, decrease the risk of stomach ulcer, and better control the levels of stomach secretions.

Cardiovascular support: Oxidative stress and inflammation in the bloodstream are major risk factors in developing cardiovascular disease especially atherosclerosis. Flavonoids in celery decrease cardiovascular inflammation. Celery phthalides act as smooth muscle relaxants to the blood vessels, allowing them to expand and lower blood pressure.

Good source of:

Vitamin K, A, potassium, folate, C

Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:

Purchasing: Choose celery that looks crisp and snap easily when pulled apart. The leaves should be pale to bright green in color and free from yellow or brown patches. Celery is one of the “Dirty Dozen” (the top most contaminated produce) so organic is preferable. Celery is available year-round.

Storing: Store uncut celery in plastic bags for up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Freezing will cause celery to wilt and should be avoided unless you will be using it in a cooked recipe.

Enjoying:

  • To cut celery cut off the base and leaves, then wash the leaves and stalks under running water. Make sure to clean all grooves and not miss any soil that could be hiding.
  • Add chopped up celery to tofu salad for an added crunch.
  • Celery stalks and leaves are great for bringing hearty flavor to stews, soups, casseroles, and stir-fries.
  • Enjoy the childhood classic “Ants on a Log” by spreading peanut nut in the groove of the stalk and topping with raisins (ants).

Resources & recipes:

Tofu Eggless Salad: http://www.picklesnhoney.com/2012/03/19/vegan-egg-salad/

Magical Celery Bisque: http://honestfare.com/new-feature/

Pomegranate Quinoa Salad: http://cookieandkate.com/2012/pomegranate-quinoa-salad/

Black Lentil Celery Couscous: http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/glorious-grains/grain-dishes/black-lentil-celery-couscous-with-jeweled-fruit/

 

References:

Hostetler G, Riedl K, Cardenas H et al. Flavone deglycosylation increases their anti-inflammatory activity and absorption. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Apr;56(4):558-69. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100596. Epub 2012 Feb 20.

Hostetler GL, Riedl KM, and Schwartz SJ. Endogenous enzymes, heat, and pH affect flavone profiles in parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum) and celery (Apium graveolens) during juice processing. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jan 11;60(1):202-8. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Ovodova RG, Golovchenko VV, Popov SV et al. Chemical composition and anti-inflammatory activity of pectic polysaccharide isolated from celery stalks. Food Chemistry, Volume 114, Issue 2, 15 May 2009, Pages 610-615.

Page V and Schwitzguebel JP. Metabolism of sulphonated anthraquinones in rhubarb, maize and celery: the role of cytochromes P450 and peroxidases. Plant Cell Rep. 2009 Nov;28(11):1725-35. Epub 2009 Sep 19.

Rizzo V and Muratore G. Effects of packaging on shelf life of fresh celery. Journal of Food Engineering, Volume 90, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 124-128.

Shiraga T. P104 specific inhibitory effect of celery extract on peptide transporter PEPT1 expression in the human intestinal caco-2 cells. Clinical Nutrition Supplements, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2009, Page 69.

Vina SZ and Chaves AR. Respiratory activity and phenolic compounds in pre-cut celery. Food Chemistry, Volume 100, Issue 4, 2007, Pages 1654-1660.

Vina SZ and Chaves AR. Antioxidant responses in minimally processed celery during refrigerated storage. Food Chemistry, Volume 94, Issue 1, January 2006, Pages 68-74.

Yao Y and Ren G. Effect of thermal treatment on phenolic composition and antioxidant activities of two celery cultivars. LWT – Food Science and Technology, Volume 44, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 181-185.

Zhou K, Wu B, Zhuang Y, Ding L et al. [Chemical constituents of fresh celery]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2009 Jun;34(12):1512-5. Chinese.

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About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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