The Health Benefits of Celery
Sometimes I am surprised when I hear or read about celery and it gets a bad wrap for being a vegetable that is not so nutritious. There are other vegetables that are indeed more nutritious than celery but that doesn't mean celery is inert in anyway! So keep reading and we will find out that celery supplies so very powerful health benefits as a result of its nutritional profile and the powerful antioxidants that it contains.
Heart Healthy Benefits of Celery
One of the benefits of celery that stands out by far is its ability to help protect us from heart disease and there are numerous nutrients in celery that help in a number of different ways.
Celery contains phytochemicals known as phthalides that are one of natures best ways of helping to lower blood pressure naturally and to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. There are actually two independent ways in which phthalides provide this heath benefit.
1) Phthalides have a strong relaxing effect on the muscles that encompass out arteries. If these muscles relax then this enables the arteries to expand (dilate) more which increases the amount of blood flow through the arteries and therefore lowers blood pressure.
2) Phthalides decrease the amount of stress hormones released by the body. This is very helpful because increased stress in the body has a constricting effect upon the arteries. This decreases the amount of dilation in an artery reducing blood flow. This puts more pressure on the heart to pump blood around the and consequently raises blood pressure. No wonder stress is one of the biggest risk factors for the development of heart disease!
Celery is also a great source of minerals that are essential to heart health, especially for the proper beating of the heart and the proper expanding and relaxing of the arteries. The videos here explain the importance of these minerals for lowering blood pressure.
Yep, and there is one more component of celery nutrition that is of great benefit to heart health - vitamin C. Just one cup of celery provides us with 15% of the RDA of this vitamin in a very bio-available format - a real food. Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants for protecting LDL cholesterol in our blood stream from the oxidative damage of free radicals.Therefore vitamin C considerably reduces our risk of developing arteriosclerosis because once LDL cholesterol becomes damaged by oxidation it can then attach to the artery wall and start forming into a plaque. Arteriosclerosis is the leading risk factor for the development of heart disease in the USA.
Boosting the Immune system
Celery is a great source of vitamin C and vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for the healthy functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C is needed to synthesis over half of all the white antibodies in our blood stream, especially antibodies that protect us from infection. Research shows us that vitamin C does appear to be helpful in resisting infections like colds and flu and helps to speed up recovery from colds and flu if we have been infected.
Vitamin A is another important member of the immune system. Although not present in celery in the quantities that vitamin C is, celery is nonetheless a fair source of vitamin A. The celery leaves are actually a better source of vitamin A than the actual stalk.
A Weight Loss Aid
Celery is a classic weight loss food and might be the first food that springs to mind when we think of weight loss. The fact is that celery really is a great weight loss food. It is a great low calorie way to ensure we are getting excellent nutrition while dieting. The amount of calories in celery are actually so low that it is classified as a 'negative calorie food'. This effectively means that the process of chewing and digesting celery require us to burn more calories than it can actually provide us! :-)
Coumarins are powerful antioxidants that are found in celery and a few other foods, namely cinnamon. The strong antioxidant effects of coumarins help to protect our cells from free radical damage and especially damage that may become cancerous. As an extra anti-cancer step, coumarins also increase the activity of white blood cells that seek out and destroy cancerous cells.