Scientists say celery may help prevent and treat cancer By Rose Lidell for Food Science
Unlike other superfoods, celery has a mild flavor and pale color. But despite its unimpressive look and taste, scientists say that celery may have impressive qualities to prevent and treat cancer.
Celery (Apium graveolens) is a superfood that’s full of essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Celery is full of different beneficial compounds, but studies have shown that it’s main cancer-fighting constituent is apigenin, an antioxidant flavonoid.
Apigenin has powerful chemopreventive effects that continue to impress researchers. In many cell and animal studies, findings revealed that apigenin could inhibit the “initiation, progression and metastasis of tumors.”
Additionally, apigenin fights cancer at every stage with multiple mechanisms of action. This versatility is important because researchers believe it may help overcome the natural genetic variations that make it hard for some patients to benefit from a single chemopreventive compound.
How does apigenin in celery fight cancer?
Angiogenesis or the growth of new blood vessels to nourish tumors is an important process in the rapid growth of cancer. Thankfully, apigenin has been found to inhibit angiogenesis, thus depriving tumors of blood, oxygen and nutrients that they need to survive.
In a cell study, results showed that apigenin helped “starve” human pancreatic cancer cells by depriving them of the glucose they needed to fuel cancer’s rampant growth.
Apigenin also interferes with molecular signaling, which decreases the production of chemicals needed by cancer cells.
In a 2008 study, apigenin inhibited the expression of focal adhesion kinase (FAK), a protein with a crucial role in cancer’s ability to break down and invade healthy tissue. This means apigenin helped inhibit the metastasis of human ovarian cancer cells.
According to another study, apigenin protected pancreatic cells from inflammatory and cancer-causing damage induced by the NF-kappaB cytokine.
Additionally, apigenin promotes apoptosis or the programmed death of cancer cells. Scientists discovered that the ability of apigenin to induce apoptosis also reduced the incidence of early lesions in rat subjects with laboratory-induced colon cancer.
New review of research confirms anti-cancer effects of celery
In an extensive 2016 review of cell and animal studies on apigenin, study authors credited apigenin with diverse and potent chemoprotective qualities and effects:
- Apigenin helped slow cancer cell proliferation.
- Apigenin helped suppress the progression of prostate cancer, resulting in a marked reduction in carcinomas.
- Apigenin reduced levels of pro-inflammatory molecules that can trigger cancer.
- Apigenin promoted apoptosis and decreased blood vessel growth to tumors.
The authors concluded that apigenin is beneficial in both the prevention and treatment of many types of cancer.
Incorporating celery into a balanced diet
Celery is often considered a “negative calorie” food, meaning that eating and digesting it burns more calories than the food provides. This is not true.
Celery is a true low-calorie food, but this false belief may have resulted in celery’s reputation as a vegetable with no nutritional value. Yet the studies discussed above have shown that celery should be a part of a balanced diet, especially if you want to lower your cancer risk.
Celery is full of nutrients, such as:
- B-complex vitamins
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Celery is also a natural source of powerful antioxidants like caffeic acid, ferulic acid and quercetin. This low-calorie veggie is also rich in dietary fiber.
And did you know celery contains other chemopreventive constituents aside from apigenin? Like its close relatives carrots, fennel and parsley, celery contains cancer-fighting compounds called polyacetylenes.
Celery is also a hydrating superfood full of nutrients, meaning eating it as a snack can help prevent dehydration.
Don’t just demote celery to a garnish on dishes that you don’t eat. Instead, try some of the recipes below to reap the many health benefits of this cancer-fighting vegetable.
This recipe for kombu celery makes a crunchy, salty, sesame-drenched appetizer.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 5 Celery stalks, strings removed and chopped into 3 x 1/2-inch sticks
- 1 Tablespoon furikake
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 Teaspoon soy sauce
- Toasted sesame seeds (for serving)
- Toss the celery, furikake, sesame oil and soy sauce in a small bowl to coat. Chill the celery uncovered for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.
- Serve the celery topped with sesame seeds.
6-Ingredient simple celery soup
This celery soup is a great vegetarian soup that will use up any leftover celery in your fridge.
It’s a smooth soup that you can drink straight from a mug when the weather is cold. This is a creamy soup, but the recipe only requires a little bit of cream so it won’t add too many calories or fat to each serving.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
- 4 Cups vegetable stock, divided
- 2 Cups celery, chopped
- 1 Cup red onion, chopped
- 4 Tablespoons salted butter, divided
- 2 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 1/4 Cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pan over medium-low heat and melt two tablespoons of the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the celery and onion and saute until soft and translucent.
- Pour the celery mixture into a high-powered blender with one cup of the vegetable stock. Process until smooth.
- Add the remaining butter to the pan, then add in the flour and whisk until you get a paste. Cook the flour paste for about one minute.
- Add the blended celery mixture to the flour mixture in the pan and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the stock.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the soup begins to bubble. Once the soup is bubbling, reduce the heat to low, add the heavy cream and stir well.
- Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
- Store the celery soup in the fridge in an airtight container for three to four days.
- You can also freeze the celery soup for up to three months.
Winter Italian chopped salad
This winter Italian chopped salad pairs celery with outer tasty superfoods like artichokes, chickpeas and oranges.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
- 2 (15.5-oz.) Cans chickpeas, drained, rinsed, dried
- 1/2 Pound marinated artichoke hearts from a 12-oz. jar (About 1 1/2 cups), drained
- 1/2 Pound provolone cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 Ounce mini pepperoni rounds
- 1 Cup pitted black olives, thinly sliced
- 1/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon chopped oregano
- 1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/4 Teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 Head of iceberg lettuce, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
- 1/2 Head of radicchio, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 2 Navel oranges, peel and pith removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 Large garlic clove, finely grated
- Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- Whisk the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, oregano, mustard, 1/4 cup of oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
- Toss the artichokes, pepperoni, chickpeas and two tablespoons of oil on a rimmed baking sheet, then season with the remaining half teaspoon of salt. Roast the ingredients, tossing halfway through, until the chickpeas are a deep golden brown and the pepperoni is crisp, or for about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Add the iceberg lettuce, radicchio, celery, oranges, cheese and olives to bowl with dressing, then toss to combine.
- Add the chickpea mixture to the salad and toss again to combine.
- Drizzle with more oil before serving.
You can also use celery in various salads or serve it with dips or hummus. Another option is to serve braised celery as a side vegetable.
Add celery to your regular diet and improve your lifestyle habits to lower your risk of developing cancer.
Watch the video below to know more about the health benefits of celery.