At just 10 calories a stalk, celery’s claim to fame may be that it’s long been considered a low-calorie "diet food." But crispy, crunchy celery actually has a number of health benefits that may surprise you. Here are five reasons you should consider adding celery to your diet, plus a few recipes to make it easy.
1. Celery is a great source of important antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect cells, blood vessels, and organs from oxidative damage.
Celery contains vitamin C, beta carotene, and flavonoids, but there are at least 12 additional kinds of antioxidant nutrients found in a single stalk. It’s also a wonderful source of phytonutrients, which have been shown to reduce instances of inflammation in the digestive tract, cells, blood vessels, and organs.
2. Celery reduces inflammation.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to many illnesses, including arthritis and osteoporosis. Celery and celery seeds have approximately 25 anti-inflammatory compounds that can offer protection against inflammation in the body.
3. Celery supports digestion.
While its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients offer protection to the entire digestive tract, celery may offer special benefits to the stomach. Pectin-based polysaccharides in celery, including a compound known as apiuman, have been shown to decrease instances of stomach ulcers, improve the lining of the stomach, and modulate stomach secretions in animal studies. And then there’s the high water content of celery — almost 95% — plus generous amounts of soluble and insoluble fibre. All of those support a healthy digestive tract and keep you regular. One cup of celery sticks has 5 grams of dietary fibre.
4. Celery is rich in vitamins and minerals with a low glycemic index.
You’ll enjoy vitamins A, K, and C, plus minerals like potassium and folate when you eat celery. It’s also low in sodium. Plus, it’s low on the glycemic index, meaning it has a slow, steady effect on your blood sugar.
5. Celery has an alkalizing effect.
With minerals like magnesium, iron, and sodium, celery can have a neutralizing effect on acidic foods — not to mention the fact that these minerals are necessary for essential bodily functions.
Tips for Buying and Storing Celery
Sturdy stalks. Look for celery that has sturdy, upright stalks. They should snap easily when you pull them, not bend.
Crisp leaves. Leaves should be crisp and fresh, ranging in colour from pale to bright green. Avoid celery with yellow or brown patches.
Wait to chop. Chop celery just before cooking or serving to maintain nutrients. Even celery that has been chopped and stored for just a few hours will lose nutrients.
Steam it. Steamed celery will retain flavour and almost all of its nutrients.
Eat in five to seven days. Eat fresh celery within five to seven days to enjoy its maximum nutritional benefits.
Eat the leaves. Don’t discard the leaves — that’s where celery has the most calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. But because they don’t store well, consume celery leaves within a day or two of purchase.
In addition to its many health benefits, celery is a versatile veggie. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it makes a great addition to smoothies, stir-fries, soups, and juices.
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All the best Jan