When it comes to flavor, celery isn’t usually the first vegetable that comes to mind. However, the stalky food may have other beneficial properties that outweigh its lack of particularly bold taste.

Some research concludes that celery may benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, unlike many other vegetables, celery doesn’t lose its nutritional properties when it is steamed.

Why is celery so healthy?

Celery is high in phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory components, and antioxidants.

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a wellness physician and radio show host, has told various publications that celery is beneficial for inflammatory autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because it “contains antioxidants and polysaccharides that are known to act as anti-inflammatories, especially flavonoid and polyphenol antioxidants.”

Other antioxidants that make celery a go-to for RA patients include phenolic acids such as caffeic acid and ferulic acid, as well as flavanols such as quecetin.

According to Axe, this means that celery is useful for treating inflammation and joint pain.

A study on healthfulness of certain plants has shown that luteolin, another substance that is found in celery, has anti-inflammatory properties. However, luteolin hasn’t been studied directly in association with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis pain relief.

However, the combination of healthy plant compounds like luteolin, along with antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory components, is why some nutrition and dietary experts tout celery as a good food for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Health coach Trisha Young from Pennsylvania recommends celery to clients who are interested in holistic nutrition. “I like celery not only because of [its] soothing anti-inflammatory properties but also because it is hydrating. It is also a low-calorie snack that satisfies the craving for a crunch. This is important because patients with RA and regular arthritis always benefit from a healthy weight, so choosing good snack foods like celery is important in that way too.”

Celery seeds are also a component in some massage oils and natural topical salves for pain. Patients should use caution though when ingesting a vegetable or using its ingredients topically if they have not tried it before, in case an allergy is present.

“I used to like celery,” said Jenna Kuhn of Ohio, “I used celery in my green juice every morning. I felt like the green juice was helping my RA and colitis. But in time I began getting rashes, got tested, and guess what — it was the celery. I’m allergic to vegetables of that family.”

Dawn Beard, an RA patient from Chicago said, “I don’t know if celery helps my RA but I do eat it and a lot of vegetables except potatoes. I use an essential oil with celery seed in it too. I feel worse when I don’t eat my veggies, so it just might actually be helping.”