Crunchy, crisp and refreshing, celery is a low-fat, low-calorie vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. While celery has a number of health benefits, it is also high in fiber and sodium, which means if it is eaten in high quantities, it can cause trouble. While it is a healthy food choice, celery should not be the central element in your diet -- having a variety of vegetables in your meal plan is key to healthy nutrition.
High in Fiber
Celery is naturally high in fiber, with a 1-cup serving of chopped celery containing 1.6 grams. While this only provides 4.6 percent to 8 percent of the recommended intake of fiber, it may cause complications for those who do not normally have a diet high in finer. Most Americans have a diet low in fiber -- according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Americans generally consume roughly half of the recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. While a diet high in fiber has numerous health benefits, a sudden increase in fiber can cause digestive complications, including constipation, gas and abdominal pain. Celery is also very high in insoluble fiber, which, according to Chris Kresser, a practitioner of functional and integrative medicine and a licensed acupuncturist, can cause pain in your digestive tract, especially if you have an inflamed gut.
High in Residual Pesticides
According to the Environmental Working Group, celery is one of the foods that contains the most residual pesticides. Pesticides are known toxins, which, in sufficiently high quantities or with regular exposure, can lead to toxicity in the brain and nervous system, as well as increase your risk for hormonal complications and cancer. They can also increase your chances of skin, eye and lung irritation, reports the environmental group. Limit your consumption of conventionally grown celery to reduce your exposure to harmful pesticides, or choose organic celery more often.
Importance of Vegetable Variety
As a member of the vegetable foods group, celery can help you meet the recommended intake of 5 to 6 cups of vegetables per day as outlined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA, however, states that you need to eat a variety of vegetables to get a balanced nutritional intake. You require a mix of beans and peas, leafy greens, starchy vegetables and red and orange vegetables in order to meet the USDA's full nutritional recommendation. Celery belongs to the "Other Vegetables" subgroup, the recommended intake of which is 3 1/2 to 5 cups per week.
According to the Anaphylaxis Campaign, celery allergy is fairly common, especially in central European countries. People who suffer from pollen allergies may experience some allergy symptoms when eating celery. Mild symptoms range from a slight itching of the throat to more severe cases, where anaphylactic shock may result. Celery may cause an allergic reaction whether it is cooked or raw, and if you are concerned about a potential allergy, speak with a medical professional to get tested.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Celery, Raw
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- Environmental Working Group - Shopping Guide: All 48 Fruits and Vegetables With Pesticide Residue Data
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Many Vegetables Are Needed Daily or Weekly?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are in the Vegetable Group?
- Anaphylaxis Campaign: Celery Allergy
- Chris Kresser: Got Digestive Problems? Take it East on the Veggies
- Environmental Working Group: FAQs