Crunchy, crispy celery is well known for being low in calories, but its health benefits go far beyond use as a diet food. Celery contains useful phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. It’s a convenient on-the-go snack as well as a vegetable that can be incorporated into cooked dishes, stir-fries and salads.
Unlike some vegetables, celery retains most of its nutrients even if it is steamed. A study published in the journal LWT – Food and Science Technology compared celery that had been steamed, boiled and blanched and discovered that 10 minutes of steaming allowed the vegetable to maintain 83 to 99 percent of its antioxidants. On the other hand, boiling and blanching led to 38 to 41 percent antioxidant loss.
Celery should be eaten within seven days of buying it, according to World’s Healthiest Foods. After five to seven days, significant amounts of the antioxidants in celery disappear. Additionally, more healthy flavonoids stick around in freshly chopped celery than celery that is chopped and stored.
Here are the nutrition facts for celery, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the Nutritional Labeling and Education Act:
- Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray tonic (or soda), which gets its flavor from celery seed extract, has been sold in the United States since 1868.
- In the 1960s, Jell-O put out a celery-flavored gelatin mix (as well as other flavors, such as coffee, chocolate, cola, seasoned tomato, Italian salad and mixed vegetable).
- Celery has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, going back to the ancient Romans, who dedicated the plant to Pluto, god of sex and hell. Madame de Pompadour, official chief mistress of French King Louis XV, swore by celery and truffle soup washed down with hot chocolate.
- Hangover cure?: The Romans also believed that wearing wreaths of celery leaves was an antidote against the intoxicating effects of wine and the ensuing headache.
- The Bloody Mary cocktail was invented in the 1920s at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that celery was associated with the drink, when a guest at a Chicago hotel was given a Bloody Mary but nothing to stir it with. He improvised with a stick of celery from the buffet.
- Winners of athletic events in Ancient Greece were presented with bunches of celery, much as flowers are given today.
- For thousands of years, celery was valued more for medicinal purposes than for cooking. Wild celery was used in the Middle Ages to treat anxiety, insomnia, rheumatism, gout and arthritis.
- Celery was first used as a food in Italy during the 16th century, later spreading across Europe as a flavoring for soups, meats and stews.