• Low in calories and source of fiber.
• A good source of potassium.
• In significant amounts may reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.
Dieters tend to eat lots of
celery because it is so low in calories, however, it is a misconception that
chewing the stalks consumes more calories than the vegetable provides. Two
stalks of celery contain less than 10 calories (celery is about 95 percent
water by weight), yet their fiber content makes them very filling. Celery is
a good source of potassium; it also contributes small amounts of vitamin C
and some folate. Although it is not very high in nutrients, it adds a unique
flavor to a variety of foods – from soups to salads and poultry stuffing.
Celery leaves are the most
nutritious part of the plant, containing more calcium, iron, potassium, beta
carotene, and vitamin C than the stalks. The leaves should be salvaged for
soups, salads, and other dishes enhanced by the flavor of celery.
Herbalists have advocated fresh
celery and celery seed tea to treat gout and other forms of inflammatory
arthritis, as well as high blood pressure and edema. Studies indicate that
phthalides in celery may reduce the body's levels of certain hormones that
constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure. Polyacetylenes, also found
in celery, are said to reduce production of certain prostaglandins, body
chemicals that are instrumental in producing inflammation. There is no
scientific proof, however, that celery can ease arthritis pain or lower
blood pressure and increase urine output.
In theory, celery may help reduce
the risk of certain cancers. The polyacetylenes destroy benzopyrene, a
carcinogen that occurs in foods cooked at a high temperature. This benefit
may be partially offset by celery's high levels of plant nitrates,
substances that the body converts into nitrosamines, which are linked with
an increased risk of cancer. However, many researchers believe that this is
a minor risk because most plants high in nitrates and other potentially
cancer-causing substances also contain chemicals that neutralize any harmful
effects. Cooking celery by boiling, braising, or steaming lowers nitrate