What is celery?
Celery is a green and crunchy vegetable that belongs to Apiaceae family of vegetables, and some say it is closely related to parsley. It is a low carb and VERY low-calorie vegetable with several health benefits. Before we dive into all the benefits, if you are reading this article to find out if this is a negative calorie food, then let me start by saying no, no it isn’t. But keep reading to find out more as it is something we cover!
Is celery a negative-calorie food?
It has been believed for years that celery was a negative calorie food, it was believed that chewing and digesting of it would burn more calories than it was worth. This is not true. According to Jenny Hills (2019) and many other sources, 1 stalk of celery contains between 6-9 calories, and contains 0 grams of fat. The reason for this is that Celery mainly consists of water.
Moreover, celery is also high in fibre. Two large stalks of celery contain 2 grams of fibre. How is this good for weight loss? Well fiber slows down digestion. It absorbs the water within the body during digestion and turns into a gel-like mass keeping your gut clean and slowing digestion. When it slows digestion, you will feel fuller for longer. Therefore, you are less likely to eat more than required, and keeps you within your daily calories AND supports a healthy digestive tract. Recommended amount of fibre is 30g per day. If you are trying to build muscle, it is recommended to consume approximately 10-15g of fiber per 1000 daily calories (Baker and Norton, 2019).
Nutrition facts of celery
Regarding nutritional value, celery is also very low in carbohydrates. I you are on a ketogenic diet or simply avoid carbohydrates, then this is definitely a snack to go for! 1 cup of chopped celery contains only 3.5g of carbs. Measuring celery against the glycaemic index, it is very low which demonstrates to support a healthy and stable blood sugar levels. The Glycaemic index measures the spike in blood sugar after consumption of a carbohydrate. You can find out more information in our article ‘All about the carbs’.
Vitamins in celery
Celery is rich in certain vitamins and minerals. With regard to vitamins, it contains vitamins A, C K and B-group vitamins.
- Vitamins A and C are antioxidant vitamins. They scavenge for free radicals. Free radicals are toxins found within air or chemicals that we have consumed or breathed in.
- Whereas vitamin K is essential to support blood dilation as these assist in the formation of blood-clotting proteins.
Minerals in celery
- Potassium is important for normal functioning of muscles, nerve cells and organs like heart, kidneys and glands.
- Calcium is required for the formation and maintenance of strength and density of bones and teeth.
- Manganese is an antioxidant mineral which is utilised in the production of superoxide dismutase which protects body and organs from free radicals.
Health benefits of celery
It is important to understand that celery does not burn fat or magically make you lose weight. The reason why it is good for weight loss is due to its low calorie, low carbohydrate and low fat content whilst being high in fibre. Fibre ads bulk to foods since it slows down digestion so having celery as a snack is a great way to cheat your calories! Having a filling 6-8 calories per 1 stalk of celery is just amazing. This will help you feel fuller and reduce the risk of binge eating as well as over eating your daily calories.
Celery contains a molecule called apigenin which is currently under studies for its anti-cancer properties (Nordqvist, 2017). Before we go any further, you need to understand what apoptosis means. Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell change or cell death. For example, induced cell changes like cell shrinkage or changes to condensation of the cell. Celery seed oil has shown its ability to induce apoptosis in a timely manner, with 300µg/mL for 72 hours reaching approximately 70% apoptosis. Moreover, a study on mammals using doses of sedanolide or phthalides which are chemicals found in celery reported reductions in tumor size and multiplicity (Patel et al, 2018). According to Cleveland Clinic, celery’s anti-inflammatory effects may be beneficial to diseases like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Rich in antioxidants
As mentioned previously, celery contains antioxidant vitamins A & C but on top of this, celery also includes beneficial compounds like luteolin, tannins and flavonoids (Hills, 2019)
– Luteolin is a flavone used in medicine to treat diseases like, hypertension, inflammatory disorders and cancer (Wcislo et al, 2014). Celery treats hypertension as it acts as a diuretic. By diuretic we mean that it increases the amount of water and salt being expelled from the body by urination.
–Tannins is a compound used to lower blood pressure, improve immune system and improve blood sugar levels.
–Flavonoids are a compound which reduce the risk of cancer; heart disease; asthma and stroke.(Strand, 2016) Flavonoids act as anti-oxidants by protecting our cells from being damaged by free radicals. (toxins mostly found in air that we breathe in)
Some studies have shown some impressive antioxidant properties. One study tested celery seeds and the interaction of those seeds with stomach ulcers. Using a dosage of 300mg per kg of the methanolic and water extracts of celery seeds in a stomach ulcer (induced by alcohol) was able to inhibit 91% and 95% of the ulceration. This is a similar effect to omeprazole which is a type of medicine prescribed to people with stomach ulcers (Patel et al, 2018)
Lowers blood pressure
Celery contains a phytochemical called phthalides which relaxes our arteries and increases blood flow which reduces blood pressure Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that celery helps to relax arteries which in turn, lowers blood pressure. This vegetable also contains lots of fibre, magnesium and potassium which also regulate blood pressure. (Cleveland clinic, 2015).
There was a study conducted by the Department of Pharmacology (1995) which examined Apium Graveolens extract from celery on rats. The study reported a reduction in total cholesterol, including bad (LDL) cholesterol. This study also demonstrated a reduction in blood fats which also lowers cholesterol. By lowering cholesterol you reduce your risk of coronary heart disease as well. (Hills,2019)
Supports a healthy liver
We previously discussed free radicals and how celery protects our body and cells from these. If you have forgotten, free radicals are toxins found in the air that we breathe in. One study examined the interactions between celery oil and liver toxicity. Celery oil was supplemented for 6 weeks at 50 µl per kg and the study reported an increase in liver weight, liver fats and liver enzymes, and the methanolic extract of the seeds demonstrated protective effects against thiocetamine and paracetamol.
Great for digestion
As mentioned previously in this article, celery is full of fibre! It is great for digestion as fibre forms a gel-like mass as it moves through our digestive tract. As it moves, it cleans the digestive tract of any toxins and leftover chime (chewed food), leaving the tract full of good bacteria.
May reduce the risk of diabetes
Fibre is not only great for digestion and keeping you fuller for longer. Fibre adds bulk to your food and reduces the spike in blood sugar after consumption of carbohydrates or high sugar foods. It is believed that celery maintains a healthy level of blood sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes or even reducing the symptoms of diabetes (Hills, 2019).
Celery may increase male sperm count and quality
Current research on celery has demonstrated to improve men’s sexual health by improving the sperm count and quality. An article written by Avicenna Phytomed (2015) discussed a recent study of celery leaf extract on male rats that took place over 30 days, and rats were supplemented 200mg/ kg of the celery leaf extract. The study reported remarkable increase in sperm volume and a great improvement to sperm quality.
Celery may reduce symptoms of menopause
Menopause occurs at a certain age and it comes with a variety of symptoms. It all begins when estrogen levels become lower, and decreases over time to the point where a female’s body experiences irregular periods, heat flushes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances and mood swings. As the female body transitions into menopause, which can take a few years, the periods stop permanently. It is said that celery includes a compound called phytoestrogens which seems to mimic the effects of estrogen (Hills, 2019). Therefore, it may reduce the effects of menopause.
Other benefits of celery
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) revealed that celery seeds have been used in medicine to treat the following conditions:
- Arthritis and gout
- Muscle spasms
- High blood pressure
- Colds and flu
- Water retention
People who suffer from the conditions above may benefit from reduced symptoms with the consumption of celery. However, researchers say that these are just beliefs at the moment based on the celery content of various vitamins and minerals that were previously discussed in the article, but nothing has actually been backed up by studies (Butler, 2017).
Despite celery being such a rich source of benefits, there are some negatives that you should know about. Celery may cause a severe allergic reaction which can lead to fatal anaphylactic shock (Nordqvist, 2017). According to Mayo Clinic, Anaphylactic shock can be deadly, it can occur after you have been exposed to an allergic reaction. Your immune system begins to release a flood of chemicals which causes you to go into shock, your blood pressure will drop suddenly and airways may narrow which can block your breathing.
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Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G. and Willis, B. (2019). Celery seed extract Research Analysis. [online] Examine.com. Available at: https://examine.com/supplements/celery-seed-extract/#interactions-with-organ-systems_testes [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].
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Med, P. (2006). Effects of Aqueous Celery (Apium graveolens) Extract on Lipid Parameters of Rats Fed a High Fat Diet. [online] 61(1). Available at: https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2006-957990 [Accessed 24 Jul. 2019].
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Phytomed, A. (2005). Effects of aqueous extract of celery (Apium graveolens L.) leaves on spermatogenesis in healthy male rats. [online] 5(2), pp.113-119. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4418060/ [Accessed 26 Aug. 2019].
Wcislo, G. and Szarlej-Wcislo, K. (2014). [online] Wheat and Rice in Disease Prevention and Health. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124017160000088 [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].