A native of Eurasia and the Mediterranean, celery was once prized by the Romans and Egyptians for its medicinal properties. Today celery can be found in most grocery stores, and you can easily fit celery -- at just 16 calories per cup -- into a calorie-controlled diet. Celery offers an array of beneficial vitamins and other phytonutrients that help preserve your health, and consuming it supports tissue function and might also combat disease.
Benefits Your Blood
Celery comes loaded with vitamins A and K -- two nutrients essential for the function of your blood. Vitamin A aids in the development of new blood cells, including the white blood cells that detect and fight off infection, as well as the red blood cells essential for oxygen transport. Vitamin K interacts with another type of blood cell, called platelets, and ensures that these cells can form blood clots needed to seal wounds and kick-start the healing process. Each cup of celery provides you with 453 international units of vitamin A and about 30 micrograms of vitamin K. This provides 19 percent of the daily vitamin A intake and 33 percent of the daily vitamin K intake for women, set by the Institute of Medicine, as well as 15 percent and 25 percent of the recommended daily intakes of vitamins A and K for men, respectively.
Maintains Healthy Vision
Celery's vitamin A content also contributes to healthy vision. Your retinas -- the tissues in your eyes that detect visual information, and then transmit that information to your brain -- need vitamin A to function. Celery also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that protect your retinas from damage caused by harmful light exposure. Celery provides you with 286 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin. While you don't require a specific amount of lutein and zeaxanthin for good health -- the Institute of Medicine has not set a recommended daily intake, as of September 2013 -- consuming 6,000 micrograms daily might protect you from eye diseases, reports the Linus Pauling Institute.
Celery contains phytonutrients that might play a role in cancer prevention. One study, published in the "American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology" in 2007, found that luteolin, a compound found in celery, is able to stop the growth of colon cancer cells in test tube studies, and even induced cancer cell death. Another study, published in the July 2013 issue of "Cancer Science," reports that a diet rich in celery is associated with a lower risk of liver cancer. While the protective effect of celery on cancer growth requires further investigation, adding celery to your diet might reduce your cancer risk.
Consuming More Celery
Raw celery's crisp texture makes it an excellent snack on its own. Add more flavor by pairing it with homemade salsa or baba ganoush, or even all-natural peanut butter. Add celery to soups to increase their nutritional value, or add it to leafy green or grain salads. Use shredded celery in your favorite sandwiches or wraps, or wrap shredded celery and other vegetables in rice paper for nutrient-packed summer rolls.
- Purdue University: Celery Notes
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Celery, Raw
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin K
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin A
- Linus Pauling Institute: Carotenoids
- American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology: Induction of Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis in HT-29 Human Colon Cancer Cells by the Dietary Compound Luteolin
- Cancer Science: Vegetable-Based Dietary Pattern and Liver Cancer Risk: Results from the Shanghai Women's and Men's Health Studies