Nutritional spotlight: celery

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, celery is used as a cure for hypertension. It is now known that celery contains phytochemical compounds called phthalides, which not only give it its flavour but have also been shown to lower blood pressure. In lab tests, when animals were injected with 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB) extracts from celery, their blood pressure fell by 12-14%.

Studies in vitro and in animals have also shown that 3nB can lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the formation of the arterial plaques which can result in cardiovascular disease. In animal studies, 3nB has also been found to help prevent strokes and to enhance energy production in the brain, as well as to improve neurological function after simulation of a stroke.

Antioxidant celery compounds called coumarins are the focus of much current scientific research due to their potential as anti-cancer therapies. The celery seed oil extract sedanolide has, along with 3nB, been found to inhibit tumours in lab tests. Celery is an excellent source of vitamin C, which has anti-carcinogenic properties through its role as an antioxidant and is rich in folate a vitamin required to make DNA and to prevent pre-cancerous changes to it. In addition, celery is a good source of Manganese, which is important for normal central nervous system and reproduction functions; fibre, which keeps your colon healthy, preventing constipation, diverticulitis and cancer, and potassium which can also help to keep blood pressure low.

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