If you think celery is only good for lowering blood pressure, think again! On the other hand, if you already enjoy celery in your diet, you’re lowering your risk of cancer. Celery contains compounds that help repel cancer cells! You read that right… eating celery is a natural cancer preventative!
The extensive health benefits of celery might surprise you. This aromatic food spice has been known for its medicinal properties since the 9th century.
It belongs to the Apiaceae (also known as Umbelliferae) family which includes parsley, carrots, fennel, coriander, parsnips, cumin and others.
Celery Compounds that Kill Cancer Cells
Celery contains apigenin and luteolin. These specific compounds are bioactive flavonoids that fight cancer cells. Flavonoids are naturally occurring plant pigments that work as antioxidants and have the capacity to combat free radicals in the body.
The apigenin component of celery fights cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death), which causes the cancer cells to self-destruct. In addition to apigenin’s antioxidant and anti-tumor properties, it is traditionally used in Chinese medicine for its capacity to treat gout and some arthritic conditions. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory compound rivaling commercial anti-inflammatory drugs.
Luteolin has the capacity to short circuit the replication cycle of cancer cells. A study published in the BioMed Central Gastroenterology journal discovered that luteolin is able to block the signal pathways (IGF and PI3K) which are necessary for the growth of cancer cells, specifically colorectal cancers. In developed nations, colon cancer is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death.
In a laboratory study, mice were fed a strong mutagen to induce fibrosarcoma (a form of bone cancer). When the mice were supplemented with luteolin in their diet, researchers noted a 60% reduction in tumor size.
Like apigenin, luteolin possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties. The Inflammatory Research Journal reported that luteolin is one of several flavonoids that exhibit anti-inflammatory activity. Both luteolin and quercetin (another flavonoid), “Inhibited the platelet-activating factor and suppressed the inflammatory response induced by allergens.” Luteolin impedes excessive production of TNF-alpha – known to be a major source of inflammation.
Other Health Benefits of Celery
Though celery is an excellent anti-cancer food, its numerous health benefits make it a perfect choice for your healthy diet. The celery plant is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals such as: A, C, K, folate, molybdenum, potassium, fiber, and other healthy components. Listed below are several of these featured health benefits:
- Replaces lost electrolytes. This water-loaded veggie is a superb post workout drink because it replaces the electrolytes in your body. It is also a rich source of potassium and sodium, giving it a mild salty taste. A one-cup serving of celery juice contains only 65 calories, making it nutrient-dense.
- Balances your pH levels. Celery is one of several natural alkaline-forming foods. Eating celery reduces your body’s acid levels, helping you to maintain a balanced pH. If your pH level is too acidic, it can stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Studies have shown that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment.
- Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Celery is a good source of fiber. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels by “sweeping” the cholesterol present in the bloodstream. Celery also contains pthalides, a substance that stimulates the secretion of bile juices that reduce LDL cholesterol. The pthalides relax the arterial wall and dilate the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow without interruption.
- Prevents constipation. Since celery contains fiber, it helps prevent constipation. Including a cup of celery in your meal or snack can yield around 2 grams of fiber plus 97 grams of water content.
- Improves kidney function. Celery has diuretic and cleansing properties which improve overall kidney function. Regular and frequent urination helps eliminate toxins within the body and prevent the formation of kidney stones.
- Treats nervous disorders. Dating back to Hippocrates, celery has been used to treat nervous disorders. If you are suffering from insomnia or anxiety, a cup of celery juice provides a soothing and calming effect on your nerves.
How to Enjoy Celery in your Meals
- Chopped celery is an excellent accompaniment to tuna and chicken salads.
- It is also perfect for juicing and green smoothies.
- Dip celery stalks in organic peanut butter for a delicious healthy snack.
- Add chopped onions and bell pepper to braised celery stalks and leaves. Mix in some ground walnuts and a dollop of soft cheese for a nice side dish.
- Introduce a new flavor to your soups, stews, and casseroles by adding chopped celery to the mix.
Undoubtedly, celery offers many health benefits and may repel cancer cells. Inexpensive, widely available, and nutrient-dense while being naturally low in calories, it is the ideal addition to a healthy cancer-free lifestyle.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2015.