Celery is a common vegetable ingredient in kitchens worldwide. It’s part of the Apiaceae family, which includes parsley, parsnips, carrots, and celeriac. It’s rich in cellulose, a complex carbohydrate found in plants’ cell walls that is edible and indigestible to humans. It gets a bad rep due to its high water content, and some health-conscious individuals may deem it not worthy of eating at all. So, what’s the deal with celery? Is it really nutritionally-void? Read to learn more.
Celery: A negative calorie food
When you’re trying to lose weight, you have to depend on the number of calories eaten versus calories burned. Negative calorie foods are a great asset when you’re trying to lose weight since these types of food burns more calories than they contain. This means that when you’re eating negative calorie foods, the body burns more energy to process it than what the body receives from it. Celery is known as a negative calorie food, and a study has confirmed that it’s true.
Scientists from the University of Warwick and the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust placed Matt Tebbutt from Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped in a metabolic chamber. The chamber measured the calories burned and ingested while he ate celery in different forms over 12 hours. After being fed both raw and smoothie form of celery, each containing 53 calories, Tebbutt burned 72 calories while eating fresh celery, and 112 calories while drinking the smoothie. In conclusion, he burned more calories digesting the celery than the celery contained.
Negative calorie foods can help your body burn fat easier and lose weight. Examples of these foods include apples, almonds, citrus fruits, berries, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables.
Nutritional Content of Celery
According to the USDA, a medium stalk of celery (7 ½” to 8” long) comes with 5.6 grams of calories, 32 mg of sodium, 1.2g of carbohydrates, 0.6g fiber, 0.5g of sugar, 0.3g of protein, and 0.1g of fat.
A whole cup of chopped celery contains only 3 grams of carbohydrates, more than half of which comes from fiber. The glycemic index of raw celery is only 35. When cooked, it increases the celery’s glycemic index to 85.2.
Celery also contains small amounts of folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium.
Besides these, celery contains plant compounds that have antioxidant properties, including apigenin, luteolin, limonene, selinene, kaempferol, and p-coumaric acid. These antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body, preventing it from causing damage to the cells.
Benefits of Celery to the Body
Despite being comprised of mostly water, celery is certainly healthy food. Its plant and seeds provide a range of health benefits, including:
1. It supports digestion and weight loss.
The amount of soluble and insoluble fiber in the celery and its high water content help support a healthy digestive tract and keep your bowel movements regular. A healthy digestive system also makes weight loss easier.
Since celery is very low in calories, it burns energy during digestion due to its fiber content. Celery’s high fiber and water content mean that you can fill up on larger volumes of food without taking in many calories. For this reason, celery and non-starchy benefits are great for weight loss.
2. It helps in diabetes management and prevention.
Celery can help reduce blood sugar levels in elderly adults with pre-diabetes. The flavonoids in celery can help protect against oxidative damage to the beta cells of the pancreas. These cells are responsible for regulating glucose levels and producing insulin. Celery comes with quercetin, an antioxidant that increases glucose uptake in the liver and stimulates insulin secretion to prevent diabetes from progressing.
3. It supports heart health.
Celery contains potassium, which lowers blood pressure; folate, which prevents inflammation; and fiber, which reduces cholesterol levels. Though celery offers natural sodium, it’s high in polyphenols that help protect against cardiovascular disease.
4. It prevents inflammation and cancer.
Inflammation is linked to many different kinds of illnesses. Celery contains a compound called apigenin, which works as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant agent. Lab tests have shown that apigenin can contribute to a programmed cell death, which can be made useful as a cancer treatment. Another research has shown that apigenin and apigenin-rich diets can reduce inflammation and restore the balance of the immune system.
Celery also contains luteolin, which may have anticancer properties. Researchers suggest that luteolin may make cancer cells more susceptible to attack by chemicals in treatments.
5. It helps prevent birth defects.
Celery is a source of folate, which is important during the early stages of fetal development. Celery is great to eat for pregnant women and all women of childbearing age to minimize the risk of birth issues. Eating leafy greens, including celery, can help supply folate required for a healthy pregnancy.
6. It helps reduce blood pressure.
A study showed the effect of celery seed extracts on blood pressure in rats that either had artificially induced hypertension or normal blood pressure. The researchers found that the extracts reduced blood pressure and raised heart rate in rats with high blood pressure, but not in rats with normal blood pressure. There are no strong pieces of evidence that celery seeds do the same effect in humans, but another study suggested that people with a high fiber intake may have a lower blood pressure than those who eat a low fiber diet.
7. It reduces levels of bad cholesterol.
High levels of bad cholesterol in the blood increase the long-term risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2014 study revealed that celery extracts could reduce low-density lipoprotein or LDL levels, also known as bad cholesterol. A 2016 review noted that people who eat a high-fiber diet appear to have lower bad cholesterol levels than those who consume less fiber.
8. It stimulates neurogenesis.
Apigenin in celery may also stimulate neurogenesis, the development, and growth of nerve cells.
9. It protects eyesight.
The vitamins in celery can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in the elderly. Celery comes with two types of vitamin A linked with a better vision: lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are specialized carotenoids that accumulate in the retina for protection.