Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Celery was cultivated in parts of Europe and the Mediterranean as early as 1000 BC, and we have evidence of celery being used as a medicinal plant in ancient Egypt. There's also evidence that ancient Greek athletes were awarded celery leaves to commemorate their winning achievements.
Regardless of which celery variety you choose to buy or grow, there are nutrient benefits to be found in all parts of the plant, including the leaves, stalks, roots and seeds. "Celery hearts" are the innermost stalks of celery, which are typically the most tender.
Nutrient Profile: Celery is a rich source of phenolic phytonutrients, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum. It is a very good source of folate, potassium, dietary fiber, manganese and pantothenic acid. Celery is also a good source of vitamin B2, copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). It also contains approximately 35 milligrams of sodium per stalk.
Celery is an important food source of conventional antioxidants: vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese. It also contains phytonutrients (phenolic antioxidants), which act as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Digestive Tract Support: Through the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients in celery, the digestive tract is protected. The pectin-based polysaccharides also provide the stomach with special healthful benefits.
Cardiovascular Support: These benefits are due to the many conventional antioxidants and phytonutrients in celery. Oxidative stress (unwanted oxygen damage to our cells, blood vessels and organ systems) and inflammation in the bloodstream are critical problems in the development of many cardiovascular diseases, especially atherosclerosis.
Potential Cancer Prevention: Because chronic oxidative stress and excessive inflammation are key risk factors for the development of many cancer types, celery's antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients may help in cancer prevention. However, no human research studies in this area have been conducted.
Selection and Storage: Choose celery that looks crisp and snaps easily when pulled apart. It should be relatively tight and compact. The leaves should be pale to bright green in color and free from yellow or brown patches.
Celery can be stored in a plastic produce bag with the air removed for up to 5-7 days; any longer duration may reduce the nutrient content. It is also recommended to wait to chop the celery until just before using it, as this will help to preserve its maximum nutrient potential.
Celery should not be kept at room temperature for more than several hours. Warm temperatures will encourage its high water content to evaporate, causing the celery to wilt quickly. If you have celery that has wilted, sprinkle it with a little water and place it in the refrigerator for several hours to help it regain some of its crispness.
Celery and Pesticide Residues: According to the Environmental Working Group's 2019 report "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce," conventionally grown celery is among the top 12 fruits and vegetables on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of celery unless it is grown organically.
Allergies: Celery can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to certain other plants and spices including wild carrot, mugwort, birch and dandelion. This has been called the “celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome.”
Recipe Suggestion: This is my absolute favorite soup of all time! It is filled with a variety of vegetables, including celery. Ina Garten's Winter Minestrone Soup is a must-have recipe for your collection.