Celery seed has not risen to the same fame as the celery stalk, which is commonly chopped and found in many different recipes, salads, and soups, or spread with peanut butter to enjoy as a snack. While celery is a good choice of vegetable in a healthy diet, celery seed should not be overlooked. In fact, some supplements contain celery seed because of the potentially beneficial compounds that support the cardiovascular system, immune system, and reproductive health. Celery seed is also used as a spice or in tea because of its earthy, green vegetable flavor. Whether or not you enjoy celery stalks, celery seed should be given serious considering as a way to promote health and wellness, and to help balance a healthy diet.
What is Celery?
Celery, known as Apium graveolens, belongs to the Apiaceae family that includes carrot, parsley, parsnip, and at least 3,700 other species of plants. (1) Depending on the region of the world, celery will differ in appearance and taste. Notably, this celery is different than wild celery, which is known as smallage, or Vallisneria americana. Wild celery is different in many ways, such as belonging to a different family of plants, and requiring a body of freshwater to grow. All the same, wild celery can be eaten, but is preferred as decoration in aquariums or ponds.
The origins of celery that we know today dates back to Europe and Asia. (2) The Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used celery as decoration and as a condiment, as well as a treatment for excess sodium intake and drunkenness. Later, celery spread to Italy where cultivators bred new varieties with larger stalks that kept longer in storehouses during winter months. The modern variety of celery known to many North Americans is of the Pascal variety, named after the discoverer Henri Pascal of Nimes, France in 1884. He wrote about its discovery: “It was in pulling out my solid golden white celery to blanch it that I recognized that certain stalks were superior to others. I found them excellent for cooking, they are good besides, and well formed.”
During the next several years, development of Pascal celery resulted in a variety that would become known as ‘giant Pascal.’ This variety is recognized for its thick, short stalks, a dark green color, an earthy flavor, and the ease at the speed that it blanches when compared to other varieties of celeries. The giant Pascal variety is most familiar to North American grocery stores and farmers markets, although ‘giant’ has been dropped from the name.
The types of celery that is grown by farmers or available to consumers can depend on the region of the world. Asia continues to use Chinese celery, which is the oldest cultivated form of the plant. The celery that grows in Asia has thin stalks and a strong taste and smell. Europe grows the celeriac variety, which produces a large bulb that keeps during the winter and is used in soups, or can be ground up as a seasoning in salads or other dishes.
Potential Celery Seed Benefits
Celery seed has a history in ancient systems of medicine that originated in Europe and Asia. (3) While celery was once popular as a food dish and decoration, celery seed would become known as a treatment for several ailments, including gout, and sodium related challenges. It would also come to be known as a diuretic and was used to support healthy joints. While its effectiveness as a medicinal herb is not entirely understood, research is attempting to clarify and validate the claims of its effectiveness to support overall health and wellness.
One study found that extracts of celery seed yield chemicals like hexanic, methanolic, and aqueous-ethanolic. These are believed to help maintain blood pressure (BP) and a heart rate already within the normal range. (4) Researchers write that “increased blood pressure is one of the important risk factors for coronary heart disease, which is the largest cause of mortality in industrial countries.”
In the study, it is noted that some cardiovascular therapies focus on the decreasing of blood pressure while simultaneously increasing heart rate. In some cases, herbal supplements with garlic, hawthorn, and cayenne pepper have been used as a form of alternative therapy. Researchers questioned whether celery seed may be an ideal alternative.
To determine the potential efficacy of celery seed, researchers administered extracts of celery seed in an animal study, then measured both blood pressure and heart beat over the course of 9 weeks. Notably, the administration of hexanic extracts provided the best results. Researchers conclude that “celery seed extracts have antihypertensive properties, which appears to be attributable to the actions of its active hydrophobic constitutes such as n-butylphthalide (NBP) and can be considered as an antihypertensive agent in the chronic treatment of elevated BP.”
Immune System and Detoxification
Celery seed provides antioxidants and natural chemical compounds that support a healthy immune system and internal response to challenges. For thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine has used celery seed for a range of maladies, like “neurological afflictions, poor digestion, influenza, water retention, high blood pressure, insomnia, arthritis, rheumatism, cold, flu, bronchitis, hepatitis, gout, stone formation in gall bladder or kidneys, asthma, arthritis, dizziness and other ailments related to spleen and liver.” (5)
While the practice of ancient medicinal systems has spent thousands of years using celery seed to support health and wellness, research into celery seed as an herb to support the immune system is relatively new in modern scientific circles. Currently, researchers have validated that celery seed does contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins A and C. (6) When examined further, celery seed has been found to include volatile oils, flavonoids, omega fatty acids, tannins, and other compounds that are believed to have a diverse array of effect in the body, including support for free radical scavenging antioxidants and detoxification. (7)
Until recently, there has been little written about the potential benefits of celery extract for the use of reproductive health. However, that may be changing with new research from the Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences in Iran. Researchers at the university developed a study to “investigate the effects of aqueous extract of celery on testicular tissue and spermatogenesis.” (8)
This study included a control group that was given distilled water, and a second group that was given the extract of celery seed. In closing the study, researchers write that the “comparison between the treated and control groups revealed a remarkable increase in the seminiferous tubules diameter, testes volume, and the number of spermatogonia, primary spermatocytes and spermatozoa. Furthermore, the increase in the number of spermatids and epididymal weight were only significant at high doses of the extract.”
The same study also references a study that found celery seed extract had a supportive effect on testes tissue. This is believed to be the result of the antioxidant and detoxification properties that help to regulate sodium in the reproductive system.
Celery Seed Uses
Harvesting celery seed requires that the celery plant develop the umbrella-shaped flower that develops the seeds. As celery is a biennial plant, flowering will not occur for two years after planting. Once the seeds are harvested, they can last up to 5 years. Celery seed is also available as fresh or dried seed, as an extract in tablets or capsules, or as celery seed oil. Each may have used as a dietary supplement, spice, or tea.
Celery Seed Tea
To enjoy the taste and potential benefits of celery seed as a tea, start by crushing or grinding the whole seed until course. This process will open the inside of the seed to the boiling water. Add 1 tablespoon of the seed into a cup and add boiling water. Let sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then strain. Add more celery seed and steep longer for a stronger taste. Mix with other teas if the taste is too bitter or earthy.
Celery Seed Spice and Celery Salt
Celery seed is dark brown color and known for having a taste that is similar to celery stalks, but more bitter and grassy. As a spice, the seed recommended for use in coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, egg salad, meat loaf, salmon loaf, and as a seasoning for chicken. If celery seed has too strong a taste, celery salt may be the preferred alternative. Celery salt combines celery seed, along with its many potential benefits, and regular salt. This combination may be a healthier alternative to regular salt and can add additional flavor to almost any dish..
Celery Seed Supplement
Detoxification and circulatory support are some of the most well-researched areas of celery seed. As such, formulations with celery seed commonly include complimentary herbs and other extracts to help maintain blood pressure already within the normal range, support a normal heartbeat, and may support healthy arteries and veins. Some supplements and premixed teas are available as dietary supplements and suggest support for detoxification, digestion, and more.
The Potential Benefits Of Plant-Based Diets
Any plant based diet that includes a variety of food sources including greens and other vegetable, legumes, tree nuts, and varieties of seeds may provide some potential benefits to overall health and wellness. (9) This style of diet normally involves limiting meat, dairy, eggs, refined or processed foods that according to some physicians can lead to, “unhealthy lifestyles that contribute to the spread of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”
Vegetarianism, veganism, and the popular Mediterranean diet closely practice dietary restrictions that either completely restrict or limit the consumption of animal products, or place limitations on processed of refined foods. (10) Unfortunately, there is no known ‘perfect diet,’ as each person’s dietary needs may differ as a result of health, fitness goals, lifestyle, preferences, availability of foods, and a host of other factors. (11)
While each person may be different, institutions like the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed general guidelines to help individuals identify the basic variety and amount of food to meet nutritional needs. (12) This includes a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. According to the organization’s guidelines, a healthy plate of food is 1/2 plant foods (non-starchy vegetables and fruits), 1/4 whole grains or unprocessed starchy food, and 1/4 lean protein.
Interestingly, celery seed, like sunflower seed or almond, are a type of fruit. In botany, fruit is the portion of a flowering plant that develops from the ovary. It contains the seeds, protecting them and facilitating dispersal. (13) While different in appearance, texture, and taste to the more fleshy structure of apples or strawberries, celery seed and other seeds may be an ideal source of nutrition. However, eating celery seed as a fruit in a diet may result in a lack of nutrients available in other fruits. As with any diet, variety is considered essential because no one food provides every nutrient the body needs. (14) Variety can also help to prevent food boredom that might lead to poor dietary habits.
Celery Seed Side Effects
Not enough is known about celery seed and its potential side effect. However, like some raw seeds, cooking or building up a tolerance to certain concentrated chemicals may be required, or could result in an adverse effect on health. Before taking celery seed, consult with a doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have sensitivities to carrots, birch, dandelion or similar plants, bleed easily, have kidney problems, low blood pressure, or expect to undergo surgery.
Enjoy Celery Seed
There are many ways to the potential benefits of celery seed. Whether you use celery seed in tea, as a spice in food, or a dietary supplement, the taste and chemical properties of this seed is thought to support many areas of the body. When combined with a diet that balances the major food groups and offers variety of dishes, celery seed and other plant based foods may be the ideal way to achieve individual health goals!