by Kimberly Allen, RN
Frequently celery is thought of as just one of those empty foods you eat when you’re trying to lose weight. However, the truth is celery is not only a nutritional vegetable it also has many health benefits. Celery powder is also frequently used as a natural preservative in organic meats.
Celery is actually packed with vitamins and minerals. Many people are aware that celery is high in vitamin C, but it also has vitamin A as well as B vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 as well as Vitamins E and K. In addition to those essential vitamins celery also contains amino acids and essential fatty acids as well as minerals including calcium, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium as well as selenium and zinc to name a few. Celery also contains fiber. Although celery does have a higher sodium content than most vegetables it is off set by the high levels of potassium. One stalk of celery has about 32mg of sodium and 104mg of potassium. The sodium in celery is naturally occurring sodium and though it sounds like a lot it’s not really a significant amount even for people that are salt sensitive.
There are numerous health benefits that should give you reason to include celery in your diet. But if you had to choose just one reason I would say the cardiac benefits. Not only does the vitamin C in celery promote cardiovascular health, but the sodium and potassium are key to regulating the fluid balance in your body preventing water retention. Celery also contains a phytochemical known as coumarins. These coumarins keep the walls of your blood vessels toned which in turn lowers your blood pressure. Those same phytochemicals decrease production of stress hormones as well therefore lowering your cholesterol levels.
Celery can also improve your brain health because it contains luteolin, a compound that has been shown to prevent the build up of the plaques and tangles in the brain that are known to cause Alzheimer’s disease as well as atherosclerosis. It can also reduce inflammation as well as oxidative damage improving your memory.
The phytochemicals like the coumarins in celery are known to be effective in the prevention of cancer as well as preventing free radicals from damaging your cells. Celery also contains phenolic acids. which are compounds that inhibit the actions of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are believed to promote the growth of tumor cells. Acetylenics are another compound in celery that are known to prevent tumor cell growth.
Celery has been used in traditional medicine for years in other countries to treat a variety of illnesses ranging from the common cold and migraines to urinary tract infections and gout. It can be used to boost your immune system and the anti inflammatory properties have been helpful in treating asthma as well as arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis.
All parts of the celery plant can be used from the seeds to the leaves. Many people like celery juice which not only provides a significant amount of vitamins and minerals drinking a glass before eating will help you lose weight. Consuming celery on a regular basis can also help prevent a wide range of diseases and can even improve your teeth. However, there is one precaution that is important, because of the levels of coumarins, flavanoids and linoleic acids as well as the volatile oils celery seeds are not recommended for pregnant women as they can cause the uterus to contract.
So if you’re one of those that always looked at celery as just a filler for the veggie tray or salad it’s time to put those empty veggie thoughts aside and see celery for what it really is. A healthy vegetable with numerous health benefits.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.