Frugal Food: Celery

As part of Nutrition to Fit’s Frugal Food Favorites series, each week we highlight a favorite affordable food and all of its nutritional benefits, in addition to ways and recipes to include it in your life. This week is all about celery!

Celery is a food people often think about as being a good “snack” mechanism – but there’s actually a lot of ways you can use celery (all parts of it!) in the meals you prepare. Or as a good vehicle for snacking (who doesn’t love a good celery stick dipped in peanut butter or hummus?). Let’s explore some of the health benefits of this frugal food favorite!

 

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Recent research is suggesting celery is fairly anti-inflammatory, particularly in the digestive tract (1). This may in particular be due to the non-starch polysaccharides found in celery.

Antioxidant Powerhouse

Celery is full of vitamin C, flavonoids, and at least a dozen other important antioxidants (1). Most of these antioxidant benefits are from its phenolic nutrients that are proven to help protect us against undesirable oxidative damage to our cells, blood vessels, and organs. Also important to note, that studies have shown steaming celery (not boiling or blancing!) results in preservation of 83-99% of these antioxidants, even after 10 minutes.

Cardiovascular Benefits

One reason celery has cardiovascular benefits is because of the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities described above. Mostly animal studies have been done so far, but they’re suggesting that the pectin-based polysaccharides and antioxidant flavonoids in celery may have a correlation with decreased cardiovascular system inflammation. This is definitely an area of great interest in research, because oxidative stress and and inflammation in the bloodstream are critical in the development of cardiovascular disease, especially atherosclerosis.

Potentially Reduce Hyperlipidemia

Initial studies done in rats showed that when rats were fed celery extract when fed a high-fat diet, the celery extract reduced the amount of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood (2). More research is needed but researches are searching to see if hyperlipidemia (an increase of fatty molecules in the blood that can raise risks of stroke and heart disease) could be improved by human consumption of celery extract, as well.

Cancer Prevention

Now there is still a significant amount of research that needs to be done in this regards, but some initial research is suggesting that luteolin, a flavonoid found in celery, may possess anti-cancer properties (2).

Buying + Storage

Look for celery bunches that are tight, crisp, and free of dark spots. To store, you can keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three weeks without spoiling, although some research suggests that some of the antioxidants will start to decrease after a week (1). Make sure to wash before using!

Uses + Recipes

Most everyone is familiar with the great dip vehicle celery makes. You can spread peanut butter in the natural “scoop” of the celery, or dip it in hummus, spinach artichoke dip, Greek yogurt dips, and more. Celery makes a great flavoring agent, too, and when chopped and cooked is an easy addition to things like soups, sautes, pilafs, potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, etc. Don’t forget – you can leave the leaves, too! I love using the added flavor from celery leaves and chopping it and adding it to soups, stocks, and my tuna salad! Check out these recipes below, too, for some creative uses including celery!

Healthy Tuna Noodle Salad by Chelsey Amer, RDN at C it Nutritionally

Lemongrass and Ginger Butternut Squash Soup by Whitney English at To Live & Diet in L.A.

15 Minute Cashew Chicken by Amanda Hernandez, RDN at The Nutritionist Reviews

Simple Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup by Diana K. Rice, RD at The Baby Steps Dietitian

Braised Celery by AGirlDefloured.com

Tomato, Sweet Onion, and Celery Salad from MarthaStewart.com

Brine Pickled Celery from PickleMeToo.com

Celery Stir Fry from SimplyRecipes.com

Apple, Grape, and Celery Salad from MarthaStewart.com

Celery Cilatro Cocktail from SkinnyTaste.com

Celery Gratin from MarthaStewart.com

Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad from Food52.com

Roasted Parsnip, Celery Heart, and Apple Salad from MarthaStewart.com

Celery Soup from racheleats.wordpress.com

Celery and Cucumber Salad with Herbs from MarthaStewart.com

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