Setting your sights on celery

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It feels a little like celery is often overlooked. It’s simply a side for buffalo wings. It’s chopped up and put into a little bit of everything, from hearty chicken noodle soup to the holy trinity of Creole cooking (onions, peppers and celery). It’s even tossed in to tuna sandwiches for a little crunch.

On its own, though, celery can be a mighty important part of a healthy diet. First and foremost, it’s known as a great snack for those watching their intake, as there’s only 10 calories per stalk. But there’s so much more to it than that.

According to Healthline, celery is a great source of important antioxidants, which protect cells, blood vessels and organs from oxidative damage. It also contains vitamin C, beta carotene and flavonoids, plus at least 12 additional kinds of antioxidant nutrients.

And it’s a source of phytonutrients, which can reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, cells, blood vessels and organs. Celery (and celery seeds) have approximately 25 anti-inflammatory compounds that can offer protection against inflammation in the human body.

Stalks of celery contain pectin-based polysaccharides, including a compound called apiuman, which have been shown to decrease instances of stomach ulcers, improve the lining of the stomach and modulate stomach secretions in animal studies.

The high water content of celery (about 95%) plus generous amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber all support a healthy digestive tract and help keep you regular. One cup of celery sticks has 5 grams of dietary fiber.

If you want to grow your own, be patient. Due to its need for a long growing season, it’s best to start celery seed indoors. For a spring crop, you’d ideally start seeds 10 to 12 weeks before your last spring frost date, but if you want to start some this week, go for it! (For an autumn crop, start seeds in time to transplant the seedlings 10 to 12 weeks before the first fall frost date.)

March is National Celery Month, so whether you’re growing or simply enjoying, proudly your hold your green stalks high.

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