Celery

If you have become accustomed to thinking about celery as a crunchy, low-cal vegetable but not a key part of your health support, it is time to think again. Recent research has greatly bolstered our knowledge about celery’s anti-inflammatory health benefits, including its protection against inflammation in the digestive tract itself. Some of the unique non-starch polysaccharides in celery—including apiuman—appear especially important in producing these anti-inflammatory benefits. (Unlike starchy polysaccharides that provide plants with a way to store simple sugars, these non-starch polysaccharides in celery help provide this vegetable with its unique structure and are not made from simple sugars but rather from pectins.)

In addition to well-known antioxidants like vitamin C and flavonoids, scientists have now identified at least a dozen other types of antioxidant nutrients in celery. These antioxidants include dihydrostilbenoids like lunularin as well as furanocoumarins like bergapten and psoralen. The antioxidant support we get from celery is largely due to its phenolic nutrients that have been shown to help protect us against unwanted oxidative damage to our cells, blood vessels, and organ systems

Celery is an important food source of conventional antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. But its “claim to fame” in terms of antioxidant nutrients may very well be its phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients fall into the category of phenolic antioxidants and have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Below is a representative list of the phenolic antioxidants found in celery.

  • Phenolic acids
    • caffeic acid
    • caffeolyquinic acid
    • cinnamic acid
    • coumaric acid
    • ferulic acid
  • Flavones
    • apigenin
    • luteolin
  • Flavonols
    • quercetin
    • kaempferol
  • Dihydrostilbenoids
    • lunularin
  • Phytosterols
    • beta-sitosterol
  • Furanocoumarins
    • bergapten
    • psoralen

In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients that help protect the digestive tract as a whole, celery contains pectin-based polysaccharides that can provide the stomach with special benefits. We’ve become accustomed to thinking about polysaccharides as starchy molecules that are used by cells as a way to store up simple sugars. But there are other types of polysaccharides in plants, including the non-starch, pectin-based polysaccharides found in celery. (Pectin is a sugar-related molecule that is largely formed from a substance called glucuronic acid.) The pectin-based polysaccharides found in celery —including apiuman—appear to have special importance in producing anti-inflammatory benefits. In animal studies, celery extracts containing apiuman have been shown to improve the integrity of the stomach lining, decrease risk of stomach ulcer (gastric ulcer), and better control the levels of stomach secretions. We look forward to future research that may confirm these stomach support benefits in humans based on dietary intake of celery in its whole food form.