The celery is one of the most popular foods in slimming diets thanks to its light weight, the fewer calories it contains, to its ability to reduce emotional eating and why it is also a good ally to combat retention . But there are many, many more of its beneficial properties, some still little known as the ability to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol , to counteract hypertension and inflammation.
Rich in vitamins and antioxidants , this vegetable is also very versatile in the kitchen : raw or cooked, in soups, for sauces rich in flavor or simply to enrich salads. In short, to benefit from a cocktail so rich and precious in therapeutic powers, you just have to put it on the table!
Celery: what it is
Celery ( Apium graveolens L. ) Belongs to the Apiaceae or Ombrellifere family . It is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but its cultivation has spread over the world for a long time. Given its diffusion and the consumption that is made of it, we can say that the therapeutic efficacy of celery has been constantly exploited and developed over time.
It is a biennial plant in nature , but in cultivation it has a one-year cycle . It has an erect, grooved and branched stem, ranging in height from 30 to 90 cm depending on the variety.
Cultivated celery can be classified into three varietal strains:
ribbed ( Apium graveolens L. var. Dulce Miller ), of which there are green, golden and white ribbed varieties. It is used for the petiole of the leaves, very developed and fleshy, and the “coast”, that is the long stem.
for cutting ( Apium graveolens L var. Secalinum Alef. ), of which the tender leaves are used, those which return after the cuts. It is used as a condiment by virtue of its sour and strongly aromatic flavor.
Turnip ( Apium graveolens L. var. Rapaceum Miller ), also known as Verona, since it is known and cultivated only in some areas of northern Italy. The large root of this variety is mainly used, with a white and sweet pulp.
Rib and cut celery
The ribbed celery and the cutting celery have angular stems that can reach almost one meter in height. The leaves are pinnate, divided into ovate-lobed segments, serrated at the edge, of an intense green color. Their smell and taste are highly aromatic thanks to the sedanine . The flowers are white and gathered in 6-12 ray umbels. The fruit (called seed) is made up of two achenes with vertical ribs. The root is taproot.
This horticultural crop is sown in a seedbed as early as January or and is harvested in June . In June-July, celery seedlings for winter production are transplanted. Once the plants have reached a sufficient degree of development, they are subjected to bleaching practice , that is, they are protected from light to make them sweeter and more tender. The whitened celery is uprooted, washed, tied in bunches and sent for sale.
The leaves and stems can be collected throughout the growing season and eaten fresh or frozen (cut into small pieces and placed in bags).
It is an uncommon vegetable grown in the winter.
The plant has a two-year cycle, but the cultivation lasts no longer than 6-7 months, because after the root it begins to be more fibrous and less suitable for consumption.
The seedlings are transplanted in March and the harvest takes place from September until the end of winter.
The epigean part can have a consistent development reaching 30 cm in height, but, although it is edible as the ribbed or cut, it is little considered for consumption . The root is the most interesting edible part of the plant: large and globular or slightly ellipsoidal, white-yellowish in color, it can also reach 1 kg in weight . The internal pulp is light white in color, with a firm but not hard consistency, and with a sweet and delicate flavor .
It is precisely in the root that lies the substantial difference between the classic celery and celeriac. And it is at the root that this type of celery accumulates the reserves of nutrients , that is, vitamins and precious microelements . One of the peculiarities of celeriac is the excellent ability to conserve after harvesting . It can last up to 4 months if kept in a dark and dry place, perhaps in the sand. It seems that its flavor improves after a certain period of storage in a cool place.
Originally this vegetable developed in the Mediterranean area. Its name derives from the Greek “Selinon” and the Sicilian city of Selinunte takes its name precisely by virtue of the importance that this place had for the production and trade of this vegetable. The plant was mentioned by Hippocrates among the remedies of the ancient pharmacopoeia and by Homer in the epic Iliad.
The food use of the this vegetable was introduced by the Romans, who used it abundantly in the kitchen.
During banquets it was also used for the aroma , which was attributed the power to soothe the effects of alcoholic intoxication. During the Middle Ages this vegetable returned to have a more typically therapeutic role. In eighteenth-century France it became fashionable as an erotic stimulant. Today it is grown in all temperate areas of the world and appreciated fresh or cooked to flavor sauces, sauces and soups, according to local food traditions.
The origin, however, of celeriac is very uncertain and it is not known exactly when it spread in Europe.
References have been found in the literature since the early 1800s . Both in the ribbed and in the turnip variety, richer in nutritional and therapeutic factors, today celery is recognized as having many of the virtues attributed to it in the ancient pharmacopoeia.
Nutritional properties of celery and celeriac
- It is almost 90% made up of water and has very few calories ( 20/23 kcal per 100 g ). This is why it is very suitable for low-calorie diets. It is a diuretic and purifying vegetable , which contains carbohydrates, proteins, low fats and many fibers, especially in the case of celeriac.
- it is rich in vitamins , in particular vitamin C and K, and is also a good source of antioxidants and flavonoids such as apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol, isoramnetin and quercetin. This vegetable is also extremely rich in mineral salts such as iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium.
- The plant, but especially the seeds , are rich in essential oils used in the food, cosmetic and medical industries. The essential oil of the leaves is a natural antioxidant with exceptional virtues. Scientific studies have shown that the essential oils of this vegetable have excellent inhibitory effects for various pathogenic microorganisms, especially for Gram-positive bacteria .
The following are the nutritional values of celery, the same as for ribs and turnip.
This vegetable has been used over the centuries as a medicinal plant . The aphrodisiac, anthelmintic (i.e. able to eliminate intestinal parasites ), antispasmodic, carminative (eliminates the air accumulated in the stomach and intestines) , diuretic, laxative, sedative, stimulant and tonic properties have been recognized .
The medicinal parts of the plant are the roots, leaves and seeds . The preparations are also used to purify the blood , to regulate bowel movements and as a cure for gallstones and kidney stones . The seeds are used to relieve arthritic pain , in the treatment of rheumatic conditions and gout . Although rich in sodium, celery is effective in lowering blood pressure.
Thanks to the presence of vitamin C , which helps strengthen the immune system, this vegetable is an excellent ally against seasonal ailments such as flu and colds. In addition, vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant and prevents inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis . It also keeps the cardiovascular system healthy .
Celery and fertility
The compounds contained in celery can have an important impact on fertility, both male and female . The most beneficial effect on male reproductive function is linked to the antioxidant effects of some compounds that improve spermatogenesis and steroidogenesis . Antioxidant compounds increase testosterone production, sperm count and motility, improving male fertility levels. Celery also restores the balance of hormones in the menstrual cycle, promoting regularity and thus helping to create an appropriate environment for dealing with an excellent pregnancy.
The aphrodisiac properties that have been attributed to it would be due to the presence of delta-16 steroid hormones, which would stimulate the activity of the sexual glands.
Ally against gastrointestinal problems
Celery suppresses overproduction of stomach secretions. The flavonoids, tannins, volatile oils, alkaloids, sterols and triterpenes contained in celery have protective and preventive effects against certain pathologies of the stomach . Seed extracts have been evaluated for the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal inflammation and irritation.
Celery and thyroid
Studies have shown that celery leaf extract can be effective in reducing hyperthyroidism by regulating thyroid hormone levels such as T3, T4 and TSH. The “protagonist” compound of this property is coumarin.
The phthalides are bioactive compounds that have many health benefits, including protection against the onset of cancer . This important property is assisted by the presence of coumarins which help prevent the formation of free radicals, thus reducing the onset of cell mutations. Coumarins also have the property of increasing the activity of some white blood cells , immune defenders that target and eliminate potentially harmful cells, including cancer cells.
The antioxidant action promoted by flavonoids and the phenolic acid contained in celery, in addition to lutein and apigenin, contribute to promoting an anticancer action , preventing the spread of potentially cancerous substances in the body.
Celery and cholesterol
Some studies have shown that this vegetable can help lower cholesterol . The aqueous extracts of the vegetable have been linked with the reduction of total and “bad” or LDL cholesterol. This property is due to coumarin, which effectively lowers the fat mass and cholesterol. In addition, celery can be included in the diet as it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids.
Celery and muscle pain
It has 85% of 3-n-butylphthalide, which is very helpful in the treatment of “rheumatism” , a general term used for arthritic and muscle aches and pains. Due to the high levels of potassium and sodium, celery-based juices, if consumed after a workout, can be used as excellent substitutes for electrolyte drinks , helping muscle recovery and avoiding the so-called DOMS, i.e. onset muscle soreness delayed.
Volatile celery oil has been shown to have antifungal activity and is active against many bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus albus, Shigella dysenteriae, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus faecalis, Streptococcus pyogenes and Pseudomonas solanacearum.
Celery and diabetes
Celery has shown some synergistic beneficial effects on diabetes and hypertension . The administration of celery seed extract significantly reduces blood sugar and prevents the decrease of insulin.
Furthermore, unlike many food supplements, the available data suggest that celery seed extract does not significantly affect the enzyme systems, so it should not alter the metabolism of the drugs that the patient could take for glycemic control.
Diuretic and hepatoprotective action
Celery seeds are a valuable aid in the treatment of gout and kidney stones . In fact, they perform a diuretic action and disinfect the renal tubules and the bladder. A decoction of the seeds and the juice of the plant constitute an effective treatment for non-serious cystitis.
Thanks to both diuretic and hypotensive compounds, celery plays a moderate hypotensive action, playing a role in the control of cardiovascular diseases .
Thanks to the detoxifying action, celery also performs a hepatoprotective function and its consumption is indicated in any pathological condition where liver support is essential.
Celery can cause allergic reactions , mainly in people who are already allergic to birch pollen.
For those suffering from kidney diseases , celery is not particularly recommended because some of its components can be irritating to the kidneys.
People taking anticoagulant drugs should consult their doctor about the possibility of consuming celery due to the high content of vitamin K, which has an effect on blood clotting.
Abuse in the consumption of celery has been observed to lead to photosensitization of the skin .
Celery is not recommended for pregnant women because it contains some substances that could cause premature contractions of the uterus.
How to use: how to use celery and how to store it
To store celery, we recommend using a sealed container, a plastic bag or a damp cloth to put in the refrigerator in the compartment dedicated to vegetables. Before storing it, it is good to make sure it is dry and free of water residues.
It is preferable to avoid freezing it because, if frozen, celery is subject to drying.
Celery seeds are also part of the culinary tradition of some countries. The seeds are completely dried , cleaned, classified as large and small seeds and sausages. The ground seed is mixed with salt to produce “celery salt”, which is used to flavor fish, salads and eggs. It is also used to flavor tomato juice and sauces.
How to choose the best celery
The ribbed and cut after harvest is sold to be eaten fresh or intended for the food industries for the preparation of pickles, dried and frozen soups.
When buying the fresh product, it is good to make sure that it has bright green leaves , bright, with no signs of evident wilting and yellow spots. The celery ribs , green or white or golden, must be firm and firm, never chewy . They must not have brown spots due to changes in the integrity of the ribs. The best celery are those that have well-tightened and full ribs, with reduced presence of filaments.
White thanks to the imbanchimento
To buy the right celery we must know that the bleaching technique , used especially in Italy, allows you to obtain a very clear product, free of chlorophyll and therefore tender, crisp and with a sweeter and less aromatic taste. On the other hand, very green celery has a much stronger and more aromatic flavor.
The ribs can be full or empty. Green celery has very large ribs generally with full barrel, rather fragrant. White celery, on the other hand, has ribs that can be empty or full, depending on the variety.
How important is size?
Another useful indication is to carefully observe the size of the vegetable. Normally the size of the white tufts is smaller than the greens. It is not said, then, that the bigger one is the best. The ideal dimensions are those around 600-700g. The larger tufts tend to become spongy and fibrous, making them annoying on the palate.
Consequently, white celery , together with red or golden ones , are more suitable to be eaten raw, accompanied by blue cheeses or salads, while green ones are used as aromatic vegetables, often with carrots and onions.
The essential oils of celery
The plant and especially the celery seeds are rich in essential oils , also known as volatile oils. They are substances with particular odors and are widely used not only in the food industry but also for the production of cosmetics and medicines. Celery essential oil is used for the manufacture of artificial flavors and for the creation of room fragrances. It gives a floral scent to oriental perfumes, with warm and strong notes. As many as 28 components have been identified in celery leaf essential oil extracts.
Celery in the kitchen
The celery cutting and coasts is a food used primarily for the aromatic qualities.
It is a fundamental ingredient of the sauté together with onion and carrot, or in the preparation of the broth .
In pieces or grated, celery flavors many dishes, both first courses ( soups, vegetable soups , especially legumes) and second courses, such as roasted and boiled meat and fish , as well as some sea or octopus salads . Celery can also be cooked in the oven, boiled in water or steamed and fried in a pan.
It can also be eaten raw , using the sweet hearts of the coasts deprived of the most fibrous parts, to dip in pinzimonio , or as a base for tasting cheeses, preferably fresh and soft, or blue or goat’s.
A leafy vegetable salad enriches with flavor and crunchiness. Celery stalks can be added as an ingredient in smoothies , centrifuged or fruit and vegetable extracts : an excellent idea to quickly take in all the nutrients of this vegetable.
This vegetable is an excellent hunger breaker , recommended at any time of the day. Recently celery is often present in the buffet for aperitifs and finger food.
The celery has a special taste and is used not only to impart flavor to our dishes, but also as the main ingredient in some recipes.
It can be eaten raw by slicing it thin or grating it in salads or combined with white meat dishes. Alternatively, celeriac root is also consumed as a cooked, boiled or sautéed vegetable. Very tasty also cut thinly and baked in the oven to prepare chips .
The recipes with celery
The recipes you can make with celery and celeriac are many: all very fresh and light , but also easy to make.Find out what the recipes with Celery are or what you celery!