Celery comes in a wide range of “wild” varieties around the world, most being closely related to the “Pascal” species that is typically cultivated in the United States. Pascal celery is believed to have first been grown in the mediterranean region around 3,000 years ago, but evidence exists that other varieties of celery were consumed more than 4,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt as a medicinal plant.
The “father of western medicine,” Hippocrates, recognized the ability of celery consumption to reduce stress and anxiety. This is likely due to celery’s complex micronutrient profile that includes high levels of magnesium.
Celery is a low-calorie, high fiber and rich antioxidant vegetable; a nutritional marvel with a wide range of health benefits. The most researched and validated benefits of raw celery consumption are anti-inflammatory properties and aiding the health of the digestive tract and cardiovascular system. The antioxidant vitamin C is found in abundance in celery, but so are many other antioxidants derived from celery’s abundance of phytonutrients. In addition to promoting heart health, the wealth of these compounds may also help prevent cancer, and eating celery as a whole food can help lower blood pressure.
Being a vegetable low in calories and sugar, celery is recommended by many physicians and nutritionists as a healthy snack for diabetics, as it can help regulate blood sugar. Snacking itself, however, is a staple of the “western diet,” and linked to the incidence of many chronic diseases, including diabetes.
Celery is grown in a variety of climates, but generally is a lover of fertile organic soils, precipitation, and cool to temperate climates. The relative versatility of celery compared to many other vegetable cultivars makes it possible to harvest in more northern states in the US in the summer, and more southern states in the winter. The majority of production in the United States comes from California, Florida and Michigan, but look for locally grown celery at your neighborhood farmers market or produce stand from late April to September in northern states, and October to April in southern states.
Warning: Celery is one of a select group of foods that can induce severe allergic reactions that can lead to shock and death, so don’t go slipping celery into an unsuspecting visitors green smoothie!
Resources and Further Reading
Celery and lowering blood pressure:
Impact of snacking on obesity in adolescents:
Some interesting little facts about celery:
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