Celery can be a healthful part of your diet. It contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds and may support digestion.

At just 10 calories a stalk, celery’s claim to fame may be that it’s long been considered a low-calorie “diet food.”

But crispy, crunchy celery actually has a number of health benefits that may surprise you. Here are five reasons you should consider adding celery to your diet, plus a few recipes to make it easy.

Antioxidants protect cells, blood vessels, and organs from oxidative damage.

Celery contains vitamin C, beta carotene, and flavonoids, but there are at least 12 additional kinds of antioxidant nutrients found in a single stalk. It’s also a wonderful source of phytonutrients, which have been shown to reduce instances of inflammation in the digestive tract, cells, blood vessels, and organs.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to many illnesses, including arthritis and osteoporosis. Celery and celery seeds have approximately 25 anti-inflammatory compounds that can offer protection against inflammation in the body.

While its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients offer protection to the entire digestive tract, celery may offer special benefits to the stomach.

Pectin-based polysaccharides in celery, including a compound known as apiuman, have been shown to decrease instances of stomach ulcers, improve the lining of the stomach, and modulate stomach secretions in animal studies.

And then there’s the high water content of celery — almost 95 percent — plus generous amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber. All of those support a healthy digestive tract and keep you regular. One cup of celery sticks has 5 grams of dietary fiber.

You’ll enjoy vitamins A, K, and C, plus minerals like potassium and folate when you eat celery. It’s also low in sodium. Plus, it’s low on the glycemic index, meaning it has a slow, steady effect on your blood sugar.

With minerals like magnesium, iron, and sodium, celery can have a neutralizing effect on acidic foods — not to mention the fact that these minerals are necessary for essential bodily functions.

  • Sturdy stalks. Look for celery that has sturdy, upright stalks. They should snap easily
    when you pull them, not bend.
  • Crisp leaves. Leaves should be crisp and fresh, ranging in color from pale to
    bright green. Avoid celery with yellow or brown patches.
  • Wait to chop. Chop celery just before cooking or serving to maintain nutrients.
    Even celery that has been chopped and stored for just a few hours will lose
  • Steam it.
    Steamed celery will retain flavor and almost all of its nutrients.
  • Eat in five to seven days. Eat fresh celery within five to seven days to
    enjoy its maximum nutritional benefits.
  • Eat the leaves. Don’t discard the leaves — that’s where celery has the most calcium,
    potassium, and vitamin C. But because they don’t store well, consume celery
    leaves within a day or two of purchase.

In addition to its many health benefits, celery is a versatile veggie. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it makes a great addition to smoothies, stir-fries, soups, and juices. Celery can also be steamed or baked.

Enjoy the healthy benefits of celery by trying these recipes.

Cream of Celery Soup

Smooth and flavorful, this soup comes together quickly.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small yellow
    onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups celery,
    finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic
    clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup
    chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup
    whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp
    freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Cook onions, celery, and garlic until translucent, about five to seven minutes. Add flour and cook one minute.

Add chicken stock and milk, stirring until smooth. Increase heat, bringing mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, adding remaining ingredients, and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Add salt to taste.

Celery Salad with Horseradish and Celery Root

Simple but artful, this recipe brings interesting textures and flavors to the standard salad.

  • 1 medium celery
  • 10 celery
    stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1 shallot,
    thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 tbsp lemon
  • 1 tbsp
    prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 cup olive
  • 3 tbsp fresh
    lemon juice
  • 1 cup
    flat-leaf parsley, packed
  • salt
  • fresh ground
    black pepper

Peel and halve celery root, then use a mandolin to thinly slice one half. Cut the other half into matchsticks. Combine celery root with celery stalks, shallot, lemon zest, and horseradish.

Season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle over vegetables, then top with celery leaves and parley, tossing to combine.

Ants on a Log

This recipe puts a twist on the after-school staple. Keep it classic by substituting peanut butter and raisins.

  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 2 celery
    stalks, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup assorted
    dried fruit

Spread cream cheese into the hollow side of each celery stalk and then sprinkle with dried fruit.