Celery is a plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is typically used as a vegetable, and has been a part of English diets for centuries. The first documented use of the word “celery” occurred in 1664, but the plant was eaten long before then.
Medicinal and Cooking Uses
Celery is a delicate vegetable, and for many centuries it was cultivated as a seasonal vegetable for use during the early spring and winter. It was used as a tonic and was thought to help cure the “salt sickness” caused by historic winter diets because of its high water content. However, by the 19th century the cultivation period for the vegetable was increased from September to April thanks to better farming methods.
This fibre-rich vegetable contains a large amount of non-starch polysaccharides. It is low in simple sugars and calories, but rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C and flavanoids. It is thought that these antioxidants can help to prevent certain cancers, as well as slow down the effects of aging.
A 100g serving contains just 16 calories, as well as around one third of your recommended daily intake of vitamin K. The plant is also rich in molybdenum, folate and potassium, and is a source of fibre, manganese, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, copper, vitamin B6, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A and calcium.
These nutrients have many benefits. The antioxidants help to lower unwanted inflammation and improve your cardiovascular health, while the potassium is important for heart function. Calcium is essential for building healthy teeth and bones, and fibre is useful for promoting digestive health. The phthalides and other phytonutrients in the vegetable act as a muscle relaxant and can help to lower blood pressure in people with hypotension. They are also known to have a diuretic effect, which is part of the reason that vegetables rich in them are popular amongst people on juice diets.
The pectin-based polysaccharides in the plant have a particularly interesting health benefit. They are thought to help to repair the stomach lining, decreasing your risk of developing gastric ulcers and helping to undo the damage that may be done to the gut by traditional Western diets.
Is Celery Paleo?
Celery is most definitely a Paleo diet friendly vegetable. Because it is so rich in fibre, has a high water content and includes a lot of valuable nutrients, it is something that you can eat in abundance. Many people add this vegetable to their salads, soups, curries and meat-based dishes because it adds taste and texture to dishes without making them significantly more calorie-dense.
If you want to cook this vegetable, try not to boil it. Steam-cooking is the best option because it reduces the loss of antioxidants and other nutrients. The best option, in terms of nutrient retention, is to eat the plant raw and to consume it while it is as fresh as possible. Nutrients tend to decay rapidly after the plant has been sitting in the fridge for more than five or so days.