08 July, 2011
Celery and Cholesterol
Being rich in fiber and low in calories makes celery an obvious choice for a low-cholesterol diet. Despite its many nutritional benefits, however, the advantages to eating celery are limited. Although it is good for you, this low-fat snack won’t exactly cancel out that cholesterol-rich piece of cake you ate this afternoon snack. The bottom line -- include celery in a sensible and balanced diet plan to help you improve your overall cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol and Food
There are three types of lipids in your body -- low-density lipoprotein, also known as “bad” cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein, also known as “good” cholesterol; and triglycerides. All three lipids are sensitive to your diet. According to the American Health Association, consuming excess amounts of alcohol and having a diet of more than 60 percent carbohydrates can cause your triglyceride levels to significantly increase. Lastly, dietary cholesterol, trans fats and saturated fats can raise your LDL cholesterol levels. Even a bit of fat from extra body weight can make it significantly harder for you to control your cholesterol levels.
In a study at the University of Chicago Medical Center, celery was found to be helpful in lowering cholesterol, as well as blood pressure, levels. Phthalide, a chemical compound in celery, was shown to reduce blood pressure in laboratory rats by up to 14 percent and lower cholesterol levels by about 7 percent. Approximately four stalks of raw celery would, theoretically, provide the required daily “dose” of phthalide for humans. However, strict clinical studies on the benefits of phthalide for humans have yet to be completed, as of 2013.
Fiber, Fat and Calories
Foods that contain a good amount of dietary fiber are useful in reducing bad cholesterol levels. As a fiber-rich, low-fat, low-calorie food, celery can help to improve your overall cholesterol levels. Because of its rich fiber content, celery can make you feel fuller faster and keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. A 100-gram serving of raw celery contains 1.6 grams of dietary fiber, or 6 percent of your daily recommended intake. The same-sized serving of celery contains only 16 calories, less than 1 gram of total fat and no cholesterol.
Celery, despite its healthy reputation, was at one point considered a poor vegetable choice for dieters because of its sodium content. A 100-gram serving of raw celery contains 80 milligrams of sodium, about 3 percent of your daily requirement. At less than 5 percent, however, this amount is actually considered low by the Food and Drug Administration.
- MedlinePlus: Sodium in Diet
- American Heart Association: About Cholesterol
- MedlinePlus: High-Fiber Foods
- New York Times: A New Look at an Ancient Remedy
- Organic Facts: Health Benefit of Celery
- Nutrition Value: Celery
- MedlinePlus: Potassium in Diet
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label
- American Heart Association: Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
- belchonock/iStock/Getty Images