Crunchy and hydrating, celery is low in calories and high in nutrients.
Celery juice became a sensation recently, with proponents asserting that drinking it on an empty stomach each morning improves or cures early anything that ails you–from leaky gut to autoimmune conditions and even mental health issues.
That fad aside (and the lack of solid support for many of the claims), the solo ingredient is well, celery. And that’s left many people asking about the benefits of simply noshing on the veg itself, rather than consuming it in liquid form. Here’s the lowdown on celery’s nutrients, and some of its potential research-backed benefits.
Celery is low in calories and hydrating
One large stalk contains a mere 7 calories and packs two ounces of water. That means chowing down on six stalks adds up to just 42 calories, while providing a filling cup and a half of H2O. Research also shows that the act of chewing, which celery most definitely requires, reduces hunger, and it boosts the release of hormones that trigger satiety–making it a savvy snack choice for weight management.
Celery provides key nutrients
While celery is largely water, it also provides several vital vitamins and minerals. The veg’s vitamin A supports immunity, skin, and eye health, and been linked to retaining lung strength as well as slowing age-related cognitive decline. Celery’s vitamin K helps blood to clot and protects bone density. This nutrient is required for bone formation, and a shortfall is tied to increased fracture risk.
Folate in celery helps support mental performance; too little has been linked to a higher risk of memory problems, as well as depression. Celery’s potassium supports heart function, muscle contractions, and helps maintain muscle mass. The veg also provides smaller amounts of vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and manganese.
Celery is rich in antioxidants and other bioactive compounds
Celery contains over a dozen types of antioxidants and dozens of potent anti-inflammatory substances. These compounds are thought to protect against cellular damage that can lead to premature aging and disease.
Natural substances in celery have also been shown to help optimize circulation and reduce blood pressure. Quercetin, a flavonoid found in celery, has been shown to combat both acute and chronic inflammation, and is linked to protection against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Quercetin has also been linked to apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to kill off worn out or dysfunctional cells, which may help reduce cancer risk.
Celery supports digestive health
The fiber in celery–one gram per large stalk–supports good gut health and bowel regularity. It also boosts fullness and delays the return of hunger, another perk that may aid weight management. Animal research has also shown that celery extract combats ulcer formation.
To take advantage of celery’s benefits, incorporate the whole or chopped veg into meals and snacks. Fill two or three stalks with spiced nut butter to simultaneously satisfy a sweet, salty, and crunchy craving. Use celery to scoop up hummus, guacamole, or seasoned tahini. The veg also makes a terrific addition to stir frys, soups, and vegetable stews. Raw celery adds flavor and texture to garden salads, marinated veggies, and chilled protein salads, such as egg, tuna, or white bean. Juice fan or not, there are smart reasons to incorporate this crisp veg into your regular eating routine.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health‘s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a private practice performance nutritionist who has consulted for five professional sports teams.
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