Celery and its Antioxidant Activity

Celery and its Antioxidant Activity

There is more to celery than its being a crunchy, low-calorie vegetable. Recent research throws light on celery's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which are attributed to its non-starch polysaccharides.[1] Apart from its anti-inflammatory effects, celery is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids,[2] and phenolic compounds. Its antioxidant benefits have been researched many times to explore its therapeutic role in lowering cholesterol, fighting off free radicals, and controlling blood pressure and blood glucose.

What Is So Special About Celery

Due to the presence of certain compounds, such as vitamins A and C, flavonoids, and frocoumarin glycosides, the mineral-rich celery is touted to be one of the most widely used medicinal plants.[3] According to a research study[4] that investigated the beneficial effects of celery on the metabolic syndrome, celery is a rich source of phytochemicals, such as antioxidants, phenolic acids, flavonols, manganese, and beta-carotene.

Cancer fighting antioxidants

Antioxidants are known to reduce the oxidative damage and fight off free radicals in the body. The phytochemicals in celery reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokines activity, which helps prevent inflammation in the blood stream, thus making it a potent weapon against heart disease and cancer.[5] A research study also underlines the protective effects of celery on diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease.[6]

Oxidative stress is often blamed for the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Diabetic neuropathy and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are some of the examples of the irreversible neurodenegeration of the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Phytochemicals in celery[7] are believed to neutralize free radicals and reduce the damaging effect of oxidative stress.

  • Polyphenols are antioxidants found in celery that interact with reactive oxygen species and alleviate neurodegeneration.
  • Apigenin polyphenol found in celery has potential antioxidative and neuroprotective effects. It is reported to scavenge free radicals and have beneficial effects on peripheral neurodegenerative diseases.[8]
  • Celery is rich in phthalides, polyacetylenes, and flavonoids like luteolin, which has cancer-fighting properties. Luteolin is believed to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and control metastasis.[9] It is also touted to suppress cell survival pathways by sensitizing cancer cells to therapeutic-induced cytotoxicity. Further underlining Luteolin’s anticancer function is its role in the stimulation of apoptosis pathways, including those that induce p53 and result in the suppression of tumor.
  • The celery seeds comprise phthalides that lower blood pressure and act as a diuretic in the treatment of colic. Phthalides are a type of phytonutrients that contribute to its unique flavor. Research demonstrates the role of phthalides as muscular relaxants. This is primarily attributed to their impact on the circulation of calcium and potassium within cells. Phthalides also play a role in the nervous system activity responsible for muscle relaxation. Muscular relaxation enables blood vessels to expand, which helps lower blood pressure and relaxes the heart. So the consumption of celery has multiple benefits for the whole body.

A digestive aid

Celery’s positive role in improving digestion is attributed to the pectin-based polysaccharides that are known as highly effective in improving the stomach lining, reducing the risk of stomach ulcers, and adjusting stomach secretions.[10]

Additionally, celery has high water content and generous amounts of dietary fiber, which are critical to digestive health and support a healthy gut.


Enriched with vitamins and minerals, celery has a low glycemic index, which means it does not cause blood sugar spikes and is slowly absorbed by the body. This is one reason celery is being seen as a superfood in the world of diabetes. The medicinal plant has a potential anti-diabetic and hypoglycemic effect.

A preliminary study[11] conducted on mice showed a significant reduction in blood glucose levels merely within 10 days of treatment with celery. The results of the study encouraged researchers to conduct the celery test on diabetics.

The results of this study show that celery consumption works at lowering blood sugar levels, as flavonoids in celery help the intestinal absorption of glucose and carbohydrate digestion.

The study also confirms the anti-diabetic properties of celery seeds in stimulating insulin secretion, controlling the metabolism of glucose in the liver, reducing apoptosis, and decreasing hyperglycemia. The ingestion of seeds results in better section of insulin by pancreatic beta cells and improving the integrity of these cells. Additionally, gluconeogenesis decreases in the liver.

The role of flavonoids in improving glucose uptake in skeletal muscle cells is further investigated in the study. Another antioxidant compound Kaempferol acts as an anti-diabetic as it plays a role in the protection of pancreatic beta cell. In rats, the antoxidant reduces hyperglycemia and increases glucose uptake. Additionally, oral consumption is found to reduce fasting blood glucose and improve insulin resistance.

All in all, a number of health issues, including diabetic complications, may be the result of oxidative stress. Increased glucose oxidation is to be blamed for the formation of free radicals in diabetic patients. Further, diabetics are also reported to have increased oxidative degradation of proteins. However, the antioxidant-rich celery is reported to work as an exogenous antioxidant on the abnormalities of free radicals.


Apart from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, celery consists of essential oils that have antifungal and anti-bacterial effects. Research is under way to investigate further the anti-bacterial effects of celery seeds.

A study researched the role of a crude alcoholic extract of seeds as an antibacterial component. It was found that the purified component had potent bactericidal effects against Helicobacter pylori.[12]

The study concluded that celery compound may be a potent agent in treating H. pylori infections.



[1] Kooti, W., & Daraei, N. (2017). A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery ( Apium graveolens L). Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(4), 1029–1034. doi:10.1177/2156587217717415

[2] Yusni, Y., Zufry, H., Meutia, F., & Sucipto, K. W. (2018). The effects of celery leaf (apium graveolens L.) treatment on blood glucose and insulin levels in elderly pre-diabetics. Saudi medical journal, 39(2), 154–160. doi:10.15537/smj.2018.2.21238

[3] Hardani, A., Afzalzadeh, M. R., Amirzargar, A., Mansouri, E., & Meamar, Z. (2015). Effects of aqueous extract of celery (Apium graveolens L.) leaves on spermatogenesis in healthy male rats. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 5(2), 113–119.

[4] Hedayati, N.1, Bemani Naeini, M., Mohammadinejad, A., & Mohajeri, S.A. (2019). Beneficial effects of celery (Apium graveolens) on metabolic syndrome: A review of the existing evidences. Phytother Res. 2019 Aug 29. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6492.

[5] Kolarovic, J., Popovic, M., Mikov, M., Mitic, R., & Gvozdenovic, L. (2009). Protective effects of celery juice in treatments with Doxorubicin. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 14(4), 1627–1638. doi:10.3390/molecules14041627

[6] Lin, Y., Shi, R., Wang, X., & Shen, H. M. (2008). Luteolin, a flavonoid with potential for cancer prevention and therapy. Current cancer drug targets, 8(7), 634–646.

[7] Al-Asmari, A. K., Athar, M. T., & Kadasah, S. G. (2017). An Updated Phytopharmacological Review on Medicinal Plant of Arab Region: Apium graveolens Linn. Pharmacognosy reviews, 11(21), 13–18. doi:10.4103/phrev.phrev_35_16

[8] Kim, M., Jung, J., Jeong, N.Y., & Chung, H.J. (2019). The natural plant flavonoid apigenin is a strong antioxidant that effectively delays peripheral neurodegenerative processes. Anatomical science international, Sep;94(4):285-294. doi: 10.1007/s12565-019-00486-2. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

[9] Lin, Y., Shi, R., Wang, X., & Shen, H. M. (2008). Luteolin, a flavonoid with potential for cancer prevention and therapy. Current cancer drug targets, 8(7), 634–646.

[10] Al-Howiriny, T., et a. (2010). Gastric antiulcer, antisecretory and cytoprotective properties of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats. Pharmceutical biology, 48(7):786-93. doi: 10.3109/13880200903280026.

[11] Yusni, Y., Zufry, H., Meutia, F., & Sucipto, K. W. (2018). The effects of celery leaf (apium graveolens L.) treatment on blood glucose and insulin levels in elderly pre-diabetics. Saudi medical journal, 39(2), 154–160. doi:10.15537/smj.2018.2.21238

[12] Zhou, Y., et al. (2009). A novel compound from celery seed with a bactericidal effect against Helicobacter pylori. Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology, 61(8):1067-77. doi: 10.1211/jpp/61.08.0011.

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