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Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

It’s National Fruits and Veggies Month, a great time to celebrate celery! Celery is an amazingly versatile vegetable that can provide so many benefits for you and your family.

Here are three reasons why we celebrate celery throughout the year.

Health

Like all fruits and vegetables, celery provides essential nutrients and beneficial natural compounds that promote health. Among vegetables, celery is rather unique. It contains a substance called sodium nitrate that our bodies convert to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax our arteries, which reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow throughout the body, including in our brains. Some studies show the people who consume the most sodium nitrate from food have the lowest risk of cognitive decline or dementia. Enhanced blood flow can also provide performance benefits for athletes.

The key to enjoying potential health benefits from celery and other vegetables and fruit is to eat them often. Enjoying them with every meal and snack is a wonderful way to develop habits that ensure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables.

Cooking with celery is another great habit. It’s an essential ingredient in classic dishes like Jambalaya, and it can also be used in innovative ways for simple sides like Roasted Celery with Blue Cheese.

Hydration

Staying well-hydrated is important for good health. The benefits of proper hydration include helping maintain body temperature, helping muscles and joints work, and reducing the likelihood of headaches. Staying hydrated can also help you avoid confusing hunger and thirst.

Did you know that celery is 95% water by weight? That alone makes it a great food for hydration. Eating a serving of celery (three medium stalks) is like drinking ½ cup of water. Plus, you get other nutrient benefits from celery like folate and vitamin K. But celery can also be used to create some amazing beverages, like Celery Juice Matcha Lemonade or Clementine Celery Ginger Juice. A fun brunch option is a Celery Mary Verde, which is like a Bloody Mary, but instead of being red it’s a vibrant shade of green.

Happiness

Whether it’s the joy of cooking or spirited conversations that cause us to erupt with laugher, preparing and enjoying meals with people you love can contribute to your overall happiness.

Research from the Produce for Better Health Foundation shows people who eat the most fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction. One way you can boost your happiness is by making fruit and veggie-filled meals featuring celery. Celery can be celebrated for its use in diverse cuisines from around the world.

Here are a few globally inspired ideas to get your started:

Can you see now why we’re so excited about celebrating celery? It’s an amazing vegetable that can help promote health, hydration, and happiness!

References
  • Lidder, S and Webb, A. Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Mar; 75(3): 677–696.
  • (2) Gee, L and Ahwulalia, A. Dietary Nitrate Lowers Blood Pressure: Epidemiological, Pre-clinical Experimental and Clinical Trial Evidence Curr Hypertens Rep. 2016; 18: 17.
  • Presley, T et al. Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults Nitric Oxide. 2011 Jan 1; 24(1): 34–42.
  • Jones, A. Dietary Nitrate Supplementation and Exercise Performance. Sports Med. 2014; 44(Suppl 1): 35–45.
  • Produce for Better Health Foundation. Novel Approaches to Measuring and Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, 2017.

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