Celery: Friend or distasteful foe?

In terms of popularity, I would say that celery is the vegetable outcast — it’s not the tastiest or most appealing, and typically, it’s just thrown next to some chicken wings or into soup for some variety. Plus, even though celery is a vegetable, all health benefits seem to go out the window when I smother it in ranch dressing to mask its bland taste. Now, I probably seem like I’m just hating on celery, but there’s actually more behind this veggie than I expected, and perhaps, this outcast is just a little misunderstood. I talked to Jeanette Andrade, a registered dietitian and graduate assistant at McKinley Health Center, to find out.

*Celery has negative calories — FALSE*

Many people have heard the lie that celery has zero calories, and the work it takes to munch on the veggie actually burns calories. Even though I wish this was true — who wouldn’t enjoy a miracle food that made them lose weight — it’s completely false.

“There are calories in it. Weight Watchers lists it as a freebie, but it’s not because there are minimal calories,” Andrade said. “For example, if you were to take a chopped half cup of celery, it would be about 25 calories.”

Obviously, the low calorie content of celery wouldn’t set back anyone’s diet plan; however, it still isn’t the negative calorie snack that most people hope for it to be.

*Celery has minimal nutrients — TRUE *

If you’re looking to get your daily dose of vitamins, celery is definitely not your best bet. It’s similar to iceberg lettuce in terms of being very low in nutrients, and is mostly comprised of water.

“It doesn’t really have a huge abundance of nutrients like some other dark greens, such as spinach,” Andrade said. “It does have some potassium and a little bit of sodium. Therefore, it’s not void of all nutrients, but if you’re going to eat a vegetable, ideally you would want to eat something a little darker in color than celery.”

Unfortunately for celery, it really isn’t able to measure up to vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, string beans and other dark greens in terms of nutrients, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth eating!

*Celery can’t help you lose weight — FALSE*

Celery is a great substitute for the unhealthy foods that people munch on in their daily life. So instead of grabbing a bag of Doritos next time you’re watching TV, take the time to choose a healthier option like celery.

“If they don’t cook it, it’s very fibrous and so it may fill someone up a little bit quicker,” Andrade said. “As far as someone trying to lose weight, if they’re trying to eat three small meals per day and they’re starving, celery would be a nice way to kind of fill them up.”

However, this doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to only eat celery as a way to lose weight. As mentioned before, celery doesn’t contain many nutrients and therefore, it’s not sufficient to live off of. If someone did just eat celery, they would most likely develop either a protein or nutrient deficiency.

*Celery can help to lower blood pressure — TRUE*

Besides using celery as a way to lose weight, another benefit is that it can lower your blood pressure — but only if you use the vegetable in the correct way.

Typically, most fruits and vegetables will help to keep blood pressure down. Celery contains an ingredient called phthalide, which is what gives celery its smell and taste. This compound lowers blood pressure by relaxing muscles in the vessel walls, and this makes it easier for blood to flow.

However, just adding in celery to your diet won’t make huge changes.

“It’s not like if you consume 6,000 milligrams of sodium per day and eat a stalk of celery that all of a sudden your blood pressure is going to go down,” Andrade said. “Usually, what they say is that you have to eat a balanced diet with minimal sodium in order to see the positive affects of celery on lowering blood pressure.”

Therefore, cut back on the salt, and celery will do its best to help prolong your life — it turns out that this outcast can be a lifesaver!

_Taylor is a sophomore in Media._