Celery, historically used as a topical medicine and as a tonic to clean the bloodstream, is a crunchy yet watery vegetable that earns its green color and nutritional value from the sun. One medium stalk contains 3% of daily fiber, 4% of vitamin A, 15% of vitamin K, and 4% of folate.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reports that celery is a leading source of the unique phytochemical apigenin, which is currently being studied for its possible role in helping damaged cells, such as cancer cells, self-destruct. Celery also contains the phytochemical quercetin, which the AICR says can help reduce inflammation and aid in illness prevention. Another of the plant’s compounds, phthalides, may support blood health.
Celery leaves are often underappreciated and tossed in the waste bin. It’s a pity. They are rich in vitamins B6 and C and can be added to sandwiches — say, turkey on whole wheat – or salads, to spruce up the color and nutritional content of your lunch.
When purchasing celery, look for firm stalks that are light in color and without bruises. Color and durability are signs of the veggie’s freshness and nutritional value. Look at the bottom of celery, also known as its heart; it should be white, not browning. Darker stalks contain more chlorophyll, which provides plentiful magnesium but will make the taste stronger. Celery is on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of veggies most affected by pesticides, so buy organic varieties whenever possible, and always wash celery thoroughly.
Celery is one of the vegetables to always keep in your fridge. Along with carrots and onions it is part of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of cooking, the three vegetables used together in cuisines the world over to create a flavor base for soups, sauces and stews. Celery is a natural source of sodium and has a light, salty taste, and maintains its nutritional value when cooked. Munch on celery raw with hummus, or dice it to add a salty crunch to salads.