Nibbling on celery may benefit more than just your waistline. It can help your blood pressure, too. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, celery seed is a natural diuretic. Diuretics remove excess fluid from your blood, reducing stress against your arterial walls and lowering your blood pressure. This doesn't mean you should trade your medication for celery stalks, because more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of celery to control blood pressure.
One cup of chopped celery has just 20 calories, but 104mg of sodium. Depending on your dietary habits, this may be a concern, because it could add significantly to your sodium intake. If you have high blood pressure, your physician has probably explained that eating too many high-salt foods can make your body retain fluid, increasing the volume of your blood and your blood pressure. Because of this, he may have asked you to limit your sodium intake. Celery also has 8mg of vitamin C and 344mg of potassium, and is known for its strong flavor. If you dislike the taste, celery is also available in supplement form as an oil, tablet or powder. If you prefer eating fresh celery, it is available year-round.
Three chemicals in celery promote healthy blood pressure: 3-n-butylphthalide, or NBP; apigenin, a plant-based antioxidant; and omega-6 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid. In his book "How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine," Dr. Michael Murray, a naturopathic doctor, writes that NBP behaves like a calcium channel blocker, dilating arteries and relaxing blood vessels. Apigenin protects your body against cellular damage, decreases inflammation in your arteries and prevents blood clots. Omega-6 fatty acids, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, may help protect your body against hypertension, or high blood pressure.
In the May 2005 issue of "Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases," Dr. Mark Houston writes that in animal studies, NBP lowered systolic blood pressure by 24 points. Systolic pressure measures the force your heart exerts pumping blood. It is the top number in your blood pressure reading. In his paper, Dr. Houston also refers to a human study in which 14 of 16 people with high blood pressure experienced a "significant" drop in blood pressure after eating celery. Dr. Houston is a physician in the Department of Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt University. To confirm the connection between celery and blood pressure, researchers must conduct further studies with much larger human populations.
Although no daily recommended intake of celery or recommended dose of supplements is available, it's generally considered quite safe. If you're pregnant, avoid celery supplements, because they can promote uterine bleeding. It might also interact with certain medications, and could increase the effect of blood thinners or diuretics. Talk to your doctor about celery supplements or fresh celery to decide what's best for you.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Celery Seed
- Iowa State University: Celery
- "How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine"; Michael Murray, N.D., et al.; November 2004
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute: Flavonoids
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-6 fatty acids