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That creamy smear of peanut butter on a stalk of crunchy celery is pretty much perfection. And what about your crudité platter—can you imagine it without those refreshingly crisp sticks of celery? We bet not. But beyond those classic pairings, you might be scratching your head at what else it is good for and also, is celery actually good for you? We take a look at celery nutrition, the health benefits of celery and more to find out.
Here are the nutrition facts for a 1-cup serving of chopped celery:
0.7 grams protein
0.2 g fat
3 g carbohydrates
1.6 g fiber
0 milligrams cholesterol
0.2 mg iron
263 mg potassium
0.1 mg zinc
30 micrograms vitamin K
Celery is a good source of vitamin K. One medium stalk of celery supplies about 10% of your daily vitamin K requirements, says Samantha Cassetty, M.S., RD, a nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of Sugar Shock (buy it: $10.69, Target.com). While that may not seem like much, she points out that it's a substantial amount considering it's such a small portion of food. Vitamin K is an important nutrient that helps with blood clotting, wound healing and bone health.
At 95% water, it should come as no surprise that celery is a great hydrating food. It's also an excellent source of electrolytes, says Robin Foroutan, M.S., RDN, an integrative dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That, along with its high fiber content, makes celery a great food for promoting gastrointestinal motility and regularity.
Health Benefits of Celery
For centuries, civilizations across the globe used celery not as food, but as a medicinal herb. Which makes sense, says Foroutan, who attributes the health benefits of celery to its concentration of antioxidants. Those antioxidants play a key role in protecting against metabolic syndrome by enhancing gut health, guarding against oxidative stress and reducing chronic inflammation, says Cassetty. Consuming celery and other foods rich in antioxidants has the potential to lower your risk for stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
How to Choose and Store Celery
Celery can be found year-round in most U.S. grocery stores. It's typically sold as heads or as bundles of bagged hearts—which include only the inner, tender stalks. Outer ribs can be a bit fibrous, but they pack serious celery flavor—use them for making broths, stocks and soups. Inner ribs are softer and their flavor is more subtle, making them perfect for salads and garnishes. When selecting celery, look for firm bunches that are tightly packed; the stalks should be bright green and the leaves should look crisp, not wilted or brown. When you get home, store the celery in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of your fridge. It should last up to two weeks that way. Or freeze it and use within 12 to 18 months.
How to Enjoy Celery
Celery is an unsung hero in the culinary world. It's not flashy or fancy, but it's loaded with flavor that seasons stocks, broths and sauces, making it the backbone of many dishes. And every part of celery is delicious and edible. Use the stalks for pretty much everything and save those leafy tops for finishing salads or finely chopping as a garnish for soups. "Celery also makes a great vehicle for egg or tuna salad or a slice of roasted turkey," says Cassetty. And Foroutan loves juicing her favorite vegetable—combining it with lime and cucumber for a refreshing drink. If you're looking to up your culinary game, try using celery stalks as skewers, suggests Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, a plant-forward culinary nutritionist and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook (buy it: $22.95, BarnesandNoble.com): "I've used long thin slices of celery stalks as skewers since they can hold up well to heat—plus, they're edible which means there's no waste."