As far back as the 9th century B.C.E., celery leaves were used for medicinal properties. The use of celery as a food, however, took root in Europe in the 1700s.
Celery is one of those vegetables we tend to keep in the bottom of our vegetable drawer and only think about when it’s time to make soup, as it’s a basic ingredient for most soup broths. It’s a humble and often overlooked vegetable. However, there are good reasons to find ways to eat more of it. Here are 5 of them.
1. It’s high in nutrients and fiber, low in calories. Let me dispel a myth. Celery is not a net-zero-calorie food. Some people believe that the body burns more calories eating celery than the vegetable itself contains. Not true. However, one celery rib only contains 20 calories, and because it’s such an excellent source of fiber, it will make you feel full and cost few calories. For people who have the need to crunch and chew, but are trying to cut down on caloric foods, celery can’t be beat. Celery is also high in vitamin C, and contains potassium, folic acid, vitamins B6, B2, B1 and calcium as well.
2. It has phytochemicals that are protective against cancer. Celery contains phytochemical compounds called coumarins, which have been shown to help prevent cancer by enhancing the activity of white blood cells. Coumarin compounds in celery also aid the vascular system, and help ease migraines.
3. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Celery contains 3-n-butylphthaline (3nb), a compound that has been found to lower blood pressure. In an animal study conducted at the National University of Singapore, a small amount of this compound lowered blood pressure by 12-14 percent and cholesterol by 7 percent. Humans can get the equivalent dose of this marvelous compound by eating just 4-6 ribs of celery.
4. It’s beneficial for people with pain of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout. The compound 3nB, mentioned above, has also shown tremendous promise as a pain reliever in arthritis, fibromyalgia and gout. The studies that have been conducted use a concentrated form derived from the vegetable—celery seed extract standardized to contain 85 percent 3nB. During one 12-week study out of University of Queensland, Australia, 15 subjects suffering from osteoarthritis, osteoporosis or gout received 34 mg of the celery seed extract twice daily. After three weeks of taking the celery seed extract, the average reduction in subjects’ pain scores was 68 percent, with some subjects experiencing 100 percent relief from pain.
5. It helps replenish electrolytes. If you’re an athlete who loses a lot of water from sweat during vigorous exercise, you probably know about the value of replacing your electrolytes. But instead of grabbing a sugary drink laden with artificial flavors, go for a rib of celery instead. Or better yet, juice some ribs. Celery juice can act as an electrolyte due to its high levels of potassium and sodium.