Belonging to the same family as fennel and dill, celery is a vegetable that is used in some dishes because of its flavor. However, the health benefits of celery are so great that it is worth using it on a regular basis. Celery is derived from the plant Apium graveolens belonging to the family Umbelliferae.
Ayurveda on Celery
Ancient cultures including the Greeks and the Romans used celery leaves as a seasoning aid.According to Ayurveda, celery seeds are useful as a medicine in treatment of the common cold, influenza, digestive disorders, retention of water in the body, liver and spleen diseases and arthritis.
Why Celery is Beneficial?
Celery contains several important constituents such as vitamins C, A, K; the B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and pyridoxine and phthalides such as 3-n-butylphthalide, sedanonic anhydride and sedanenolide. Celery also contains minerals such as sodium, manganese, calcium, molybdenum and magnesium and a group of compounds called coumarins. Besides, the celery seed contains volatile oil made up of d-limonene and selinine.These constituents all individually contribute to the several health benefits of celery.
Celery Health Benefits
Recent scientific research has found celery has uses in treating a wide range of disorders, including some of those specified in the traditional medicinal systems.
Benefits against High Blood Pressure : In Chinese medicine, celery is considered an important herb to reduce high blood pressure. Research on animals now shows that this may be true because the phthalides that are present in celery have the property of relaxing the muscles in the walls of the arteries. As a result of this relaxation, the arteries are less constricted and this reduces the blood pressure. Besides, phthalides also have been found to decrease the levels of stress hormones in the body and this again contributes to a lowering of blood pressure.
Some people believe that health benefits of celery in hypertension are impossible because it has a high proportion of sodium – a mineral that is involved with increase rather than decrease of blood pressure. A single cup of chopped celery contains about 100 milligrams of sodium whereas the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets the limit for daily intake of sodium at 2,400 milligrams. What this implies is that including celery in the diet will not by itself increase blood pressure provided people keep their overall sodium intake lower than the recommended levels.
Animal studies on dogs and rabbits using celery extract and a study on humans with hypertension using celery juice have shown that celery tends to bring about a significant reduction in blood pressure.
Diuretic Benefits : Celery seeds help in removing the excess water that the body retains in patients suffering from edema. This is a result of the minerals sodium and potassium it contains which have an important role in regulating the body’s fluid balance by increasing the production and output of urine in persons with edema.
Immunity-improving Benefits : One of the major health benefits of celery is its ability to boost the body’s immune system because of its content of vitamin C. This vitamin has a two-fold benefit – it acts against the free radicals and prevents them from causing cellular damage that otherwise triggers the immune response; besides, it also reduces the severity of the common cold as many research studies have increasingly found.
Anti-inflammatory Actions, benefits in arthritis : The vitamin C in celery acts as an antioxidant and this stops the inflammation caused by free radical reactions. As a result, health benefits of celery are quite significant in reducing the severity of inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Besides, the anti-inflammatory action of celery is also believed to have a protective effect against cardiovascular disorders.
Benefits against High Cholesterol : Celery has been shown to lower the body levels of cholesterol in animals with high cholesterol levels. This effect arises from the celery’s ability to promote the secretion of bile from the liver; this successfully excretes the cholesterol from the body without allowing it to accumulate in the blood.
Benefits against Cancer : Besides vitamin C, celery contains other antioxidants such as the coumarins. As a result, one of the significant health benefits of celery is its protective effects against cell mutations that may lead to cancer. Studies have also found that another group of compounds in celery that are known as acetylenics are able to put an end to the growth of tumors. An animal study on parsley showed that one of its constituents called apigenin is effective against breast cancer; since celery too contains this apigenin, the researchers believe it may also possess anticancer properties. This has yet to be proved in humans, though.
Studies on mice have found that the phthalides found in celery are effective anticonvulsants and sedatives. Oil from celery has been found to possess the ability to reduce blood sugar as well as kill fungi.
How to Select and Store
When buying celery, avoid the ones that have a seedstem or a yellow, brown or black discoloration. The best type of celery is the one in which the stems look green and crisp and yield easily when pulled aside lightly. Celery can be stored in the refrigerator by wrapping it in damp cloth or in a plastic bag or inside a container that is tightly sealed. However, it is important to avoid placing the celery in the freezer because it causes wilting. If you peel or cut the stalks, make sure they are completely dry or the nutrients will drain out, reducing the health benefits of celery.
Delicious Cream of Celery Soup!
Celery in your daily life
It is easy to include celery in daily life – one of the best ways to use its leaves in salads.
Celery can also be mixed with carrot and beet while juicing. Another popular recipe is Celery soup! this is just delicious and low fat (see video for complete recipe below)
Precautions while using Celery
Persons with an allergy to celery should avoid using it because it may lead to urticaria, respiratory problems and even anaphylactic shock. There is no data available for use of celery during pregnancy and lactation above the normal levels as part of the diet and therefore, it is best to stick to the usual quantities.
The celery seed can cause bleeding and muscle spasms in the uterus and may lead to miscarriage; pregnant women should therefore avoid using the seeds. Persons having inflammation of the kidneys and those on diuretic drugs, blood thinners, sedatives and thyroid medications should speak to their physician about possible interactions of celery with these medications before consuming celery seeds.
Health benefits celery are numerous, it is best to include celery as a part of your daily diet for the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants it contains.