Nutrition / Diet

Celery: Understanding the health benefits and risks

Celery is member of the Apiaceae family, which involves carrots, parsnips, parsley, and celeriac. Its crunchy stalks make the vegetable a popular low-calorie snack, and it may also provide variety of health benefits.

The digestive and cardiovascular systems will benefit from the fiber in celery. Celery also contains antioxidants that might play a role in disease prevention.

This article looks at the potential health benefits of celery, and also the nutritional value of the vegetable, and some ways of preparing it.

Benefits

celery vegetables
Celery can aid in reducing inflammation.

A variety of health benefits can be offered by the nutrients in the celery plant and its seeds.

However, it is worth noting that these nutrients exist in celery in relatively small quantities. It is not possible that eating celery alone would prevent or cure any disease.

Preventing Cancer and Inflammation

Celery contains a plant compound called apigenin, which, as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant agent, plays a role in traditional Chinese medicine.

It might have properties that help battle cancer as well.

Lab tests have shown that apigenin may lead to apoptosis, a kind of programmed cell death, according to the authors of a 2016 study, which could make it useful as a cancer treatment.

In 2015, researchers behind a study in mice found that the expression of some inflammatory proteins was decreased by apigenin and apigenin-rich diets. These substances will, in this way, minimize inflammation and restore the immune system’s balance.

A flavonoid called luteolin is found in celery. The authors of a 2009 article indicated that luteolin could have anticancer properties, which may help prevent cancer cells from spreading and cause cell death. They indicated that luteolin in treatments could make cancer cells more susceptible to chemicals attack.

Blood pressure

To relieve blood pressure, some practitioners of Chinese medicine use celery and celery extracts.

The effect of celery seed extracts on blood pressure in rats with either natural blood pressure or artificially induced hypertension was examined in one study.

The authors concluded that in rats with high blood pressure but not in those with normal blood pressure, the extracts reduced blood pressure and increased the heart rate. However, there is no strong proof that celery seeds help lower human blood pressure.

Celery is also a healthy fiber source, and the findings of a Cochrane study in 2016 revealed that individuals with a high consumption of fiber could have lower blood pressure than those on a low fiber diet.

In order to validate their results and to define the specific impacts of various types of fiber, the authors called for further study.

What other foods can help with blood pressure reduction?

Hyperlipidemia

Hyperlipidemia refers to increase in fatty molecules in the blood. Sometimes, there are no symptoms, but the long-term risk of heart failure and stroke is increased.

A 2014 study in rodents found that in rats that ate a high-fat diet, celery extract decreased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.

The 2016 Cochrane study, meanwhile, observed that individuals who adopt a high-fiber diet tend to have lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol than those who eat less fiber.

Neurogenesis

Apigenin can also stimulate neurogenesis, nerve cell growth, and development.

Researchers gave rats apigenin in a 2009 study and discovered that it increased the generation of nerve cells and enhanced the ability to learn and remember.

However, verifying these results in humans would take further studies.

Other benefits

Some researchers have suggested that celery extracts can also help prevent the following:

However, it will take more studies to validate these possible benefits of celery and celery seeds.

Learn all about antioxidant-containing foods.

Nutritional contents

Celery consists primarily of water, but it contains dietary fiber as well. Around 0.1 g of fiber is given by one 4-inch celery stalk, weighing about 4 grams (g).

Celery contains other plant compounds, besides apigenin and luteolin, which have strong antioxidant properties.

These include:

  • selinene
  • limonene
  • kaempferol
  • p-coumaric acid

Cellular damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals is prevented by antioxidants of different kinds. As a byproduct of natural processes, the body creates these substances, but if too many build up, they can be harmful.

Antioxidants help neutralize and prevent free radicals from causing harm that could otherwise contribute to the creation of diseases.

Small quantities of vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C are also provided by a stick of celery.

Diet

People may eat raw or cooked celery.

Usually, raw vegetables contain more nutrients than cooked ones. According to one report, steaming celery for 10 minutes does not impact the antioxidant content significantly, but boiling celery may do so.

Celery pairs well with:

  • cheese
  • dips, such as humus
  • peanut butter

A tasty and nutritious smoothie can be produced by combining celery with cucumber, apple, spinach, and lemon.

Or, try adding celery or celery seeds to:

  • salads
  • soups
  • risottos

Below are some recipes that dietitians recommend:

Celery’s cousin, celeriac, features in:

Risks

Authors of a review published in 2017 note that in some individuals, celery can trigger a serious allergic reaction.

Symptoms may include:

  • hives
  • swelling
  • difficulty breathing

They need emergency medical attention if someone has trouble breathing after eating celery. A reaction called anaphylaxis is experienced by certain people, which can be fatal.

Food labels should be checked carefully for someone who is allergic to celery, as even small traces can cause a reaction.

Also, as they can induce uterine stimulation, pregnant women should avoid celery seed supplements.

Pesticides are involved in another risk. On the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 list of 15 types of goods most likely to contain pesticides, Celery ranks at number 11. To remove any traces of contamination, wash the celery well.

Conclusion

Celery can make a crunchy, tasty addition to many dishes, and its seeds and extracts can offer a variety of health benefits. It can also make a handy low-calorie snack.

It should be noted that traditional medicine and most studies have concentrated not on the use of celery sticks but on celery extracts.

There is evidence, however, that eating a range of fresh fruits and vegetables can benefit the health of an individual in several ways.

Celery seed extract is available as a supplement, but as with any supplement, it is important to consult with a doctor on whether using it is safe and advisable. Some supplements may interact with or otherwise be unsuitable for certain individuals with medications.

Sources

  • Al-Asmari, A. K., et al. (2017). An updated phytopharmacological review on medicinal plant of Arab region: Apium graveolens Linn.
    (LINK)
  • Arango, D., et al. (2015). Dietary apigenin reduces LPS-induced expression of miR-155 restoring immune balance during inflammation [Abstract]. 
    (LINK)
  • Celery, raw. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Health benefits and risks of celery (LINK)
  • EWG’s 2019 shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. (2019).
    (LINK)
  • Hartley, L., et al. (2016). Dietary fibre for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
    (LINK)
  • Kooti, W., & Daraei, N. (2017). A review of the antioxidant activity of celery (Apium graveolens L).
    (LINK)
  • Kooti, W., et al. (2014). The effects of hydro-alcoholic extract of celery on lipid profile of rats fed a high fat diet [Abstract].
    (LINK)
  • Lin, Y., et al. (2008). Luteolin, a flavonoid with potentials for cancer prevention and therapy.
    (LINK)
  • Moghadam, M. H., et al. (2013). Antihypertensive effect of celery seed on rat blood pressure in chronic administration.
    (LINK)
  • Phaniendra, A., et al. (2015). Free radicals: Properties, sources, targets, and their implication in various diseases.
    (LINK)
  • Sung, B., et al. (2016). Role of apigenin in cancer prevention via the induction of apoptosis and autophagy.
    (LINK)
  • Taupin, P. (2009). Apigenin and related compounds stimulate adult neurogenesis [Abstract]. 
    (LINK)
  • Yan, X., et al. (2017). Apigenin in cancer therapy: Anti-cancer effects and mechanisms of action.
    (LINK)
  • Yao, Y., & Ren, G. (2011). Effect of thermal treatment on phenolic composition and antioxidant activities of two celery cultivars.  
    (LINK)

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