Celery – it might seem like a boring leafy veggie you add to a salad for a bit of crunch. But as you’ll come to see, it can be incredibly beneficial. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at 18 health benefits of celery that you might not have known.
Nutrition and calories
Looking at its green leaves and stems, you wouldn’t think celery is all that good for you. But this humble herb has some decent nutrition under the hood because celery is very healthy for you.
Here are the nutrition and calorie information of celery (x):
- Serving size: 100g
- Water: 95.4 g
- Energy: 16 kcal
- Total Carbohydrates: 3.4 g
- Total protein: 0.7 g
- Total fat: 0.2 g
The high water content and low fat are great for certain types of diets. The assortment of minerals in celery is also great for your health. So let’s talk about the health benefits of celery.
Health benefits of celery
Celery can be a crunchy addition to your diet. But that’s not all it is — celery can do a surprising amount of good for your health as well.
Here are 18 surprising health benefits of celery:
- Contains important vitamins and minerals
- Contains antioxidants
- It May help lower cholesterol
- May reduce blood pressure
- Can reduce inflammation
- Might help with diabetes management
- Supports your digestive health
- May help with allergic asthma
- May help prevent and treat UTIs
- Might boost your immune system
- May help with memory and Alzheimer’s
- Help keep your eyes healthy
- It May help you sleep better
- Celery oil repels mosquitoes
Now let’s look at each of these health benefits in detail.
1 – Celery Contains important vitamins and minerals
Celery contains a broad spectrum of important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Here are just a few of them:
Vitamins in celery:
- Vitamin A, C, E, and K
- Vitamin B6
Minerals in celery:
Vitamins and minerals are considered to be essential nutrients because they perform literally hundreds of vital roles in your body. These range from producing new cells, to sending nerve signals, to transporting blood and oxygen, to simply sustaining your body.
If you see the word “micronutrients” being used, just know that that term refers to vitamins and minerals. The “micro-” part of that word can be deceiving. It means you only need small amounts of the nutrients — not that they play a “micro” role in your body!
2 -Celery Contains important antioxidants
Celery contains many antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta carotene, and flavonoids.
Antioxidants, as their name might suggest, are compounds that inhibit oxidation. This is a chemical process that produces free radicals and chain reactions in your body, both of which are harmful to the cells in your body. (Free radicals are unusable atoms, by the way.)
Vitamin C, present in celery, is a powerful antioxidant. Its most famous function is to strengthen your body’s natural defenses (x). But it also helps against inflammation (x).
Studies have shown that eating food with vitamin C can increase your blood antioxidant levels by as much as 30% (x).
Another antioxidant you can find in celery is beta carotene. Although you’re more likely to find this compound in brightly colored plants (like carrots, which is where it gets its name), it is still present in celery.
Your body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. Other than that, some studies show that beta carotene might slow mental decline as well (x).
One other type of antioxidant that is present in celery are flavonoids. Just like carotenoids, flavonoids are responsible for the bright color of some fruits and vegetables. But in celery, they function to regulate cell activity and fight off free radicals, just like other antioxidants.
Celery contains other antioxidants as well (x).
3 – May help lower cholesterol
Celery contains two things that may help combat critical cholesterol levels: fiber, and phthalides (x, x).
Dietary fiber is a component of plant-based food that doesn’t get digested by your body. Although most people know fiber to be a boon for digestive health, it is also great for managing cholesterol (x).
Soluble fiber is the key type that reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your LDL cholesterol.
Phthalides, on the other hand, work indirectly. This plant compound may stimulate the secretion of bile juices in your liver (x). Bile plays a major role in the absorption and processing of cholesterol in your body (x).
What does lower cholesterol mean for you? Less plaque on the walls of your arteries and generally better health for your cardiovascular system.
4 – May reduce blood pressure
Phthalides do more than help manage cholesterol levels. This multitasker also indirectly contributes to keeping your blood pressure low.
First, phthalides have a hypolipidemic effect on your blood. This means they lower lipid levels. Animal studies show that the hypolipidemic effects of phthalides allow your blood vessels to expand and make it easier for your blood to move around in your body. This leads to lowered blood pressure.
In addition to phthalides, celery also contains potassium. Many people suffer from high blood pressure due to the lack of potassium in modern diets. An appropriate level of potassium in the body helps to lower blood pressure (x).
Multiple studies have shown a link between low potassium intake and increased blood pressure and a higher risk of stroke (x, x, x). The converse is also true. A healthy amount of potassium in the diets of people with high blood pressure shows a significant lowering of their systolic blood pressure.
5 – Can reduce inflammation
Another of the many health benefits of celery is that the plant and its seeds contain not one, not two, but 25 anti-inflammatory compounds! (x.)
One of the main ways celery can benefit you is by improving long-term or chronic inflammation. This condition happens when your body has a prolonged reaction involving inflammation. (Inflammation, by the way, is a by-product of your immune system fighting against things that might harm your body.)
Chronic inflammation can manifest itself in many ways. Among other symptoms is rheumatoid arthritis. This condition causes joint pain and damage throughout your body, and anti-inflammatory foods such as celery can help cope with it.
6 – Might help with diabetes management
Celery has multiple properties that make it a great ingredient in the diet of a diabetic person.
First, celery has a low glycemic index. The glycemic index of a food item is a measure of how much your blood sugar spikes after eating that food. Food such as rice, potatoes, and bread have high glycemic indices, while meats and fatty foods generally have very low or even zero glycemic indexes.
The fact that celery’s glycemic index is low is great for diabetes management. If you ever need a crunchy, crispy snack to chew on while you watch the TV, celery might be a guilt-free choice.
Another way celery helps with diabetes management is due to its fiber content. Soluble dietary fiber can slow the rate at which your digestive system absorbs sugar, and also generally improve blood sugar levels (x). By eating the appropriate amounts of dietary fiber, you can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
7 – Supports your digestive system
Staying with the theme of fiber and its manyfold benefits — digestive health.
Having lots of fiber in your diet is essential for your digestive health. You’ll have a lower risk of constipation and fecal incontinence (x, x). High levels of fiber in your diet may even reduce hemorrhoids.
In short, “fiber is the fuel that keeps your colon going,” says experts (9).
But too much of a good thing is still bad. The same applies to fiber. Exceeding your recommended daily amount may lead to bloating, gas, and (ironically) constipation.
8 -Celery May help with allergic asthma
Here’s another addition to celery’s already impressive roster of beneficial compounds: luteolin.
This compound may be beneficial for people with allergic asthma, which is an inflammatory disease. It affects the upper and lower airway. Common triggers for allergic asthma include environmental allergens such as pollen, animal dander, and mold spores.
Luteolin has been researched and shown to reduce inflammation and lower allergic reactions (x). In this animal test, mice were given luteolin 30 minutes before being exposed to an allergen. These mice showed greatly reduced levels of inflammation within their lungs and nasal passages.
Although this was an animal test, and human research is not yet conclusive, the outcome may be positive.
9 – May help prevent UTIs
Celery does a few things to reduce the risk and severity of urinary tract infections.
Research shows that celery acts as a diuretic (x, x). This means that it helps your body expel excess water. This can be a lifesaver for someone with recurrent urinary tract infections.
If you’re looking to combat a UTI, the best way to ingest celery is as a juice. When you drink celery juice, its compounds can travel to the kidneys and down through the rest of the urinary tract, with its powerful sodium cluster salts acting as a detergent along the way. These clusters attach themselves to strep (the leading cause for UTIs) and assist it out of the body through the urine (x).
10 – Might boost immune system
Celery contains vitamin A, which is important for the maintenance of your immune system (x).
The form of vitamin A found in celery is known as provitamin A. These compounds are found in plant-based food, and are converted into vitamin A inside your small intestine.
It is vital for the good health of many parts of your body’s natural defenses, such as the mucous barriers in your eyes, lungs, and gut. It’s also involved in the production and function of your white blood cells.
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin A from your diet, you may run a higher risk of infections (x, x). You’ll also take longer to recover from an illness.
However, too much vitamin A can be bad for you. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be stored in your body. Excess consumption can lead to toxicity. Symptoms of vitamin A excess include nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
11 – May help with memory and Alzheimer’s
There is a celery seed extract known as L-3-n-butylphthalide. This compound is what’s responsible for the signature smell of celery. But it does more than that.
L-3-n-butylphthalide, known as BuPh for short, has recently undergone research that proves it may prevent the accumulation of brain plaques and tangles that cause Alzheimer’s disease (x, x, x, x).
BuPh may come to play a valuable role not only in treating Alzheimer’s but outright preventing it. But for now, there is not enough data to confirm this.
12 – Helps keep your eyes healthy
Let’s circle back to vitamin A. Another way the versatile vitamin benefits your body is by keeping your eyes healthy. More specifically, vitamin A helps to protect your eyes from night blindness and other signs of age-related decline.
The role of vitamin A in eyesight starts from the moment light hits the back of your eye. The vitamin is needed to convert this light into an electrical signal that can be sent to your brain for processing. This is why a leading symptom of a vitamin A deficiency is night blindness (also known as nyctalopia) (x).
In addition to night-blindness, sufficient vitamin A intake may prevent other diseases related to your eyes such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (x).
13 – May help you sleep better
Remember 3-n-butylphthalide? Earlier, we touted this compound’s neuroprotective abilities. It also provides a calming effect on your central nervous system (x).
Celery also contains phthalides. This compound, which we discussed earlier, lowers your blood pressure. And a lowered blood pressure may induce sleep.
This won’t mean you won’t be out cold after eating a stick of celery. But the combined calming effect BuPh and phthalides may mean quicker and more restful sleep. And maybe you’ll even dream about the health benefits of celery!
14 – Celery oil repels mosquitoes
Can’t bear the whine of mosquitoes anymore? You don’t have to reach for expensive mosquito repellant, because celery oil works just as well.
Celery oil extracted from the plant’s seeds has been shown to be effective against mosquitoes (x).
As an added benefit, celery oil is antibiotic and antiseptic.
The next time you go out, rub some celery oil on yourself. Your skin will thank you in more ways than one!
Is celery Negative calorie food?
If you’ve been researching the health benefits of celery online, you might have come across pages calling celery a “negative calorie food”.
A negative calorie food is one with such little nutrition and energy that your body uses up more energy digesting it than you get from the food.
However, there exists no data to suggest that celery is a negative calorie food. Or, for that matter, that negative calorie foods exist. It is simply a dietary urban myth.
Sure, there are many health benefits of celery. But being “negative calorie” isn’t one of them.
While celery seems like a super-food, you can always have too much of a good thing.
Eating too much celery can lead to bloating or gas in some people. This may be due to high levels of the compound “mannitol” in the plant. Manniton has been linked to gastrointestinal problems.
If you’re allergic to celery, you might experience more severe reactions (x):
- Difficulty breathing
These may lead to anaphylaxis if proper medical attention is not provided.
Celery is a low-calorie snack as well as a healthy addition to most diets. While it’s safe to eat for anyone who isn’t allergic, it’s important that you don’t eat too much.
But as long as you don’t overdo it, there’s a surprising number of ways you can experience the health benefits of celery.