8 Health Benefits of Celery & 4 Recipe Ideas
Celery has been a popular vegetable for over 3000 years. But did you know that, in ancient times, it was mostly used for medicinal purposes? In this article, we’ll share all the health benefits of this wonder veg with you, as well as giving you some go-to recipes to incorporate it into your diet.
Celery originated in Mediterranean lands, and apparently spread to parts of Asia, and even the Himalayas.
It’s well-known for its many health benefits, including hydration, boosting your digestive system, and providing your body with many helpful nutrients and fiber. It’s one of the all-time best snacks if you’re on a diet.
Interesting Facts about Celery
Arguably one of the most interesting facts about celery comes from ancient times: Egyptians once associated celery with Cults of Death, and even offered it as a sacrifice or gift to their dead.
One Egyptian priest was discovered with celery wrapped around his chest and neck.
In ancient Greece, celery wreaths were gifted to winners of sports competitions. Meanwhile the Romans thought celery a potent aphrodisiac. Allegedly the infamous Casanova ate plenty of celery to stay, well, active.
Celery was apparently first grown for food in France during the 1600s. Apparently it spent quite a long time before as just a medicinal and, in some ways, mystical plant.
Origin and Where Celery Comes From
Celery originally stemmed from the Mediterranean. Since its early days, celery has been used as natural medicine. It’s been used all across Europe and Asia, and has been mentioned in Chinese texts since 500 AD.
Celery season ranges from late Summer to early Fall and even Winter. Good seasonal celery is firm and has green leaves and crisp, refreshing stalks that crunch when you bite into them.
Nutritional Facts, Calories and Protein of Celery
Celery is full of beneficial dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and some sodium.
Celery contains the amino acid tryptophan, and antioxidants including flavonoids.
It’s also full of a helpful compound known as phthalide, which can improve heart health, reduce inflammation in your body, and even reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.
Two celery stalks only contain around 15 calories, making celery an excellent snack food for when you’re on a diet.
Health Benefits of Eating Celery: Why It Is So Good for You
Celery has been renowned for 1000s of years for its many health benefits. Here is a short list of the top rewards you’ll gain from adding celery to your diet. If these aren’t enough to convince you, we share some delicious recipe ideas further down in this article.
Boosts Sperm Count and Sexual Performance in Men
Celery is known to help with the reduction of blood pressure, which also helps with erectile dysfunction. Celery leaf extract has been shown, in an animal study, to help increase the production of sperm.
In other words, the Casanova story from ancient Italy may have some truth to it. If you’re a man, you may well wish to supplement your diet with plenty of celery.
May Boost Heart Health
Celery contains plenty of minerals and vitamins which are helpful for your heart’s health. Folate and vitamin K, in particular, are vital when it comes to the forming of new red blood cells as well as good blood clotting.
Studies have also shown that consuming celery extract can reduce the amount of plaque that’s built up in your arteries.
Helps Support Your Digestive System
This fantastic vegetable is a great source of fiber, including both insoluble and soluble fiber. Fiber is well-known for helping your digestive system function properly.
An animal study also showed that adding celery extract to your diet may also help protect you against the formation of gastric ulcers.
Could Improve Your Memory
An animal study also suggested that a compound found in celery seeds may improve your memory, as well as your learning and thinking. Celery seeds may even help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
May be Beneficial for Managing Blood Sugar Levels
Celery has been studied for its effects on managing blood sugar levels, and was helpful for older patients who had pre-diabetes.
Celery leaf extract was seen to have a good effect on balancing blood sugar levels. The stalks are also a good snack for diabetics, as they’re unlikely to cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Helpful for Managing Weight Loss
Celery juice may be helpful for weight loss, especially if you’re using it instead of beverages containing more calories.
Celery is also good for your digestive system, and may reduce blood pressure and inflammation in the body. So while it won’t help you lose weight on its own, it’s a helpful addition to a healthy weight loss diet.
May Soothe Inflammation in Your Body
Did you know that celery is helpful when it comes to reducing inflammation in your body? More than just that, it also has antibacterial and anti-viral properties which can help your body to better deal with various ailments.
Interestingly a compound known as luteolin present in celery can even prevent inflammation in your brain. It may even be a good addition to your diet if you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines.
Can Reduce Blood Pressure
A compound known as phthalide found in celery is said to help relax your arteries, increase blood flow, and lower blood pressure. Its salt content is also low, and it contains a variety of minerals and fiber, all of which may help you in regulating your blood pressure.
Health Benefits of Celery Juice
Celery juice, while arguably not the tastiest drink on its own, is rich in nutrients including minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
It’s great for reducing inflammation in your body and brain, boosts hydration, and may help with any of the benefits listed above.
With that said, you’ll want to avoid any so-called detox juice ‘cleanses’, as these may put your body at risk of developing a nutrient deficiency and restricting you to a dangerous level of calories.
Potential Risks of Celery
As with any health-food or supplement, celery also comes with a small number of potential risks and side effects. These tend to be mild and are generally related to overconsumption. Here are the top risks to look out for if you’re thinking of adding celery or celery extract to your diet.
You Could be Allergic to Celery
In some countries, celery allergies are associated with hayfever or an allergy to pollen. As with other allergies, being allergic to celery could range from mild to severe reactions.
Certain Medications May Interact with Celery
Medicinal amounts of celery could interact with blood thinning medications. Taken together, this could increase your risk of bleeding. Always speak to your doctor if you’re on certain types of medication before adding natural supplements of any kind.
Is Celery in Pregnancy Good For You?
Celery makes for a wonderful snack when you’re expecting. It’s low in calories, yet offers plenty of fiber and healthy nutrients. If you suffer from constipation during pregnancy, celery is particularly helpful.
Try celery with carrot and cucumber batons and a lovely yogurt or hummus dip.
You can also add it to some wholemeal pitta bread along with other healthy veg and lean meat toppings for a yummy sandwich. Just make sure you always wash your celery well before using it.
Beware: celery seeds, celery oil, and (potentially) celery extracts are found to likely be unsafe when used during pregnancy.
Very large and medicinal amounts of celery may cause miscarriage, so make sure you avoid these. Celery juice should potentially be avoided in your first trimester of pregnancy, and certainly in very large amounts.
Food amounts of celery stalks do not appear to pose any risks, and are nutritious and safe.
Can Dogs and Cats Eat Celery?
Dogs can safely consume celery. In fact, if your furry friend is overweight, celery makes for an excellent diet treat. Celery is low in cholesterol and fat, a great source of dietary fiber, as well as of a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Cats can also eat celery on occasion, though they really don’t need it. Cats are carnivores, and should eat mostly meat. Giving her some celery as an occasional treat may provide extra fiber and nutrients, but isn’t vital.
Delicious Recipe Ideas with Celery
Celery is full of goodness for your body, but, let’s face it, it’s not the most delicious of vegetables on its own. With some simple tweaks, you can turn celery into a variety of scrumptious foods you’ll keep coming back to. Here are four of our favorite ideas.
Braised Celery Makes for a Scrumptious Side Dish
Our favorite braised celery recipe mixes just a few ingredients: fresh stalks of celery, salted butter, ground black pepper, and some high quality beef stock.
The celery is braised until just tender, so for a short time only.
The trick is to remove any fibrous pieces with a potato peeler before braising, and then remove the celery from the heat when it’s just cooked, rather than mushy.
Celery Soup offers Seasonal Goodness that is Diet-Friendly
Celery soup is a delicious seasonal treat that’s heart-warming and full of nutrients. All you need is some olive oil, fresh celery, garlic, potatoes, your favorite stock, and milk.
Cook until the celery and potatoes are soft, then remove the pot from the heat.
Blend until smooth, and season to taste with a little bit of ground pepper. Serve with warm, crusty bread smothered in butter.
Potato and Celery Salad is Perfect for BBQs and More
Make a yummy potato and celery salad for your next potluck or BBQ. All you need is some cooked new potatoes, some fresh stalks of celery, apples, onion, and a delicious vinaigrette.
Dijon mustard mixed with vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some freshly cut chives pairs very well with the above. This makes for a great lunch salad to enjoy during pregnancy, too, as it’s full of vitamins.
Enjoy Some Simple Celery Crudités
Crudités refer to ‘unprepared’ veggie sticks arranged neatly on a platter, usually with some sort of dip in the middle. Celery, cucumber, carrot, peppers, radishes, cauliflower, and broccoli all make excellent crudités.
Pair them with a delicious dip, such as one made of mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, dried paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper.
Hummus, guacamole, a simple salsa, or a blue cheese-based dip are also very popular.
Tips for Using Celery
As you can see from our recipe ideas above, celery is a versatile vegetable with plenty of health benefits. Below are a few more tips for using celery, including how to store it, and what you can use it for besides tasty recipes.
How to Store Celery
Ideally, you should wrap your fresh celery stalks in tin foil before storing them in your fridge’s crisper drawer. This way, the celery stalks won’t lose as much moisture, allowing them to stay fresh for up to two weeks.
Drink Celery Juice
You can make celery juice at home by either using a juicer or your blender. If you blend it, make sure you have some kind of fine mesh strainer to hand to sieve out the pulp.
Add some lime to your juice to make it taste a little better. Top tip: you can use the pulp in pasta sauces or to thicken soups. Pulp is full of fiber, so you don’t want to throw it out.
Enjoy a Celery-Based Cocktail
Bloody Mary cocktails are famously made with celery salt, but you can also enjoy other celery-based drinks.
A celery gin rickey is quite a nice cocktail that includes gin, celery soda, celery bitters, lemon peel, and a stalk of fresh celery for decoration.
Bear in mind this is for true celery lovers — if you don’t like the taste of celery and want to have it for its health benefits, this one’s probably not for you.
Use Celery in Homemade Stock
Homemade stock arguably contains many more nutrients and a lot less salt than store bought varieties.
Why not add any leftover celery, alongside carrots, onions, fennel or leek tops, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper into a pot of water, and make your own?
You’ll want to reduce your stock for at least an hour, before straining it and using it in your favorite recipes.