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CeleryCelery

 

BENEFITS

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.

 

Medicinal Properties

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 levels.

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