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Health food of the month - Celery

May 2011

Previous Health Foods of the Month...

Curly Kale

Sweet Potatoes


Diet & Supplements Index

Celery used to be the crunchy bit in school meals that many of us would remove and leave on the side of the plate. Even today, I can’t say I am over enthusiastic about the flavour – but because celery is now known to be such a great health food I do include it a lot in various meals and I certainly have grown to love the crunchiness, if not the flavour!

Celery is thought to have originated around the Mediterranean and records show there were also wild celery plants growing in areas right across the middle east to the Himalayas. Originally it was used because of its medicinal properties and was featured in Homer’s Odyssey.

celeryIt was really in the middle ages that celery began to be considered as a food and from the 18th century on has been very popular across Europe. In those days they probably didn’t realise all the health benefits of including celery in their diet; today many class it as a super food.

For a start, celery is packed with vitamin C that is beneficial in so many ways. It is also a very good source of dietary fibre, potassium, folate, molybdenum, manganese and vitamin B6 plus it contains calcium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, magnesium, vitamin A, phosphorus and iron. A multivitamin pill in one easy to eat stalk!

Celery also contains active compounds called phthalides. These help relax the muscles around arteries and allow these vessels to dilate. This means blood can flow at a lower pressure, so celery is said to be good for helping to reduce blood pressure. Traditional Chinese doctors have been using celery for this purpose for a long time.

There are compounds called coumarins in celery that some say can help prevent free radicals from damaging cells. Coumarins also enhance the activity of certain white blood cells, immune defenders that target and eliminate potentially harmful cells, including cancer cells. In addition, there are reports that compounds in celery called acetylenics have been shown to stop the growth of tumour cells.

Apart from my personal thought about its taste, there is a possible downside to celery. It has a reputation for being high in sodium. In fact, celery contains approximately 35 milligrams of sodium per stalk against a daily recommended maximum intake of possibly 2.5g a day, so at this level everyone should be able to enjoy at least some celery.

Best of all, celery only has around two calories per stick, so when you are struck by hunger, nibbling a celery stick could be the perfect answer.


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