Celery is an unassuming vegetable that has become a household staple. The addition of celery to salads, soups, and juices provides a subtle yet distinctive flavor that’s always welcome in my book.
Nutritional Benefits of Celery
As a diuretic, celery’s main benefit is its immense water content. Celery has so much water, it’s actually a negative calorie food – i.e., you actually burn calories while you eat. In addition to water, celery’s potassium content helps assist in body fluid regulation and stimulates urine production. Celery assists in ridding the body of excess fluid and toxins.
Celery’s blood pressure reducing properties has long been recognized by Chinese medicine. But western medical research has discovered a compound call phthalides, which assists the muscles around the arteries to relax and allow dilation of those vessels. With less constriction, blood can flow easier and at a lower pressure. Phthalides also reduces stress hormones, one of the major culprits contributing to high blood pressure.
A possible cancer preventative, celery contains coumarins which combats free radicals. In this fight, celery helps to lessen the damage inflicted upon cells, decreasing mutations and the potential for cells to become cancerous.
Additionally, coumarins increases the activity of certain immune-defending white blood cells, and more specifically against cancer cells. Another compound in celery, acetylenics, is believed to stop the growth of tumor cells.
Celery provides 44% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin K. Vitamin K assists in blood clotting, the preservation of bone density, the prevention of calcification of the cardiovascular system, and proper brain/nervous function. Vitamin K is also an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory.
History of Celery
Today’s celery was cultivated from wild celery. Wild celery is thought have originated in the Mediterranean and eastward to the Himalayas. Wild celery has less stalk and more leaves.
Celery was first used as a medicine and then as a food. The original mention of celery (leaves) as medicine appears in the Odyssey, epic by the Greek poet Homer.
A few more celery facts:
- Celery is in the same vegetable family as carrots, fennel, parsley, and dill
- Celery is a biennial which means that it has a two year life (growing) span
- The roots and seeds of celery can also be used for cooking and for medicine
- Ancient Greeks used celery leaves as laurels for renowned athletes
- Ancient Romans used celery as a seasoning
- Eating raw celery become popular in 18th century Europe
- Celery came to the United States in the early 19th century
Selection and Storage of Celery
Choose celery that is crisp and snaps when pulled apart. The stalks should be tight and compact and not splayed. The leaves should be a pale to bright green in color. Avoid celery that has yellow or brown coloration in the leaves.
Store celery in a sealed container, plastic bag, or damp cloth in the refrigerator. Avoid freezing as celery will wilt in frigid temperatures.
Juicing with Celery
Celery is a fantastic addition to many juicing recipes. Try these combinations:
- Celery, beet, and carrot
- Celery, cucumber, green apple, parsley, kale, and ginger
- Celery, cucumber, and carrot