DIET AND FITNESS:

Does Celery Lower Blood Pressure--
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August 20, 2010, last updated July 25, 2013

By Louise Carr, Contributing Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our panel of Registered
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial
Board]


Celery is crunchy with a distinctive taste and a talent for
livening up soups. But could celery also protect you from high
blood pressure?

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at
the National Institutes of Health, 50 million Americans suffer
from high blood pressure. High blood pressure is called the
‘silent killer’ because although most people don’t realize they
have it, it’s a major risk factor for developing heart attack or
stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the first and third
leading causes of death in the US (figures from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention state 616,067 people die
from heart disease and 135,952 from stroke each year) so it
is important to keep an eye on your blood pressure.  

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure measures the pressure of blood in your
arteries and it is scored using two figures.

The top number is systolic blood pressure, the pressure in
your arteries when the heart contracts.

The bottom number is the diastolic blood pressure, your
resting blood pressure between heart beats. High blood
pressure is categorized as 140/90 mmHg or above each time
it is taken. Having high blood pressure, or hypertension, over
a long period of time damages your arteries and puts a strain
on your heart, leading to increased risk of heart disease and
stroke. (Read more about how
your blood pressure changes
over the course of your life.)

How Does Celery Help?

There are many methods of lowering blood pressure, both
natural and pharmaceutical. In 1992, a study from the
University Of Chicago Medical Center discovered one
surprising weapon in the fight against hypertension --celery.

Dr. William Elliott and Quang T. Le discovered that celery had
properties that lowered blood pressure.

Dr. Le was prompted to investigate the vegetable when his
father, who suffered from high blood pressure, ate a quarter-
pound of celery a day and found this lowered his blood
pressure from 158 over 96 to 118 over 82.

This significant drop in blood pressure was replicated in
experiments in the University Of Chicago Medical Center study.

The researchers reported that a even a small amount of
celery extract, equivalent to four celery stalks, lowered blood
pressure in rats by 12 to 14 percent and lowered cholesterol
by around 7 percent.

What is in celery that lowers blood pressure? Elliott and Le
found a certain active chemical in celery  lowers blood
pressure by relaxing the smooth muscles that line blood
vessels and by lowering stress hormones in the blood.
Stress
hormones cause blood vessels to constrict, raising blood
pressure. This active ingredient is called "3-n-butylpthalide",
or "phthalides".

Does Celery Really Work?

Celery has been used for medicinal purposes since the birth
of medicine itself. Hippocrates, the Father of Modern
Medicine, prescribed celery as a tonic for those suffering from
nervous tension. Celery has also been popular in Chinese
medicine for thousands of years but it has only recently been
tested by Western scientists.

Following the University of Chicago study, a 1997 study from
the National University of Singapore found further evidence
of celery’s blood pressure lowering powers when they
studied the blood vessel relaxation effects of 3-n-
butylphthalide in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR).
Authors Tsi and Tan looked at the rats over 13 days and
found phthalides administered at high daily doses of 2 mg
and 4 mg didn't reduce blood pressure over time. However,
phthalides in lower doses of 0.5 mg a day did decrease
systolic blood pressure. Whether these results were due to
tolerance being built up in the body at high doses or another
element of the study which wasn’t functioning properly is
unclear.

Celery contains high levels of the flavonoid called "apigenin".
A 2006 report by Raquel Soares and Isabel Azevedo from the
University of Porto, Portugal, in the American Journal of
Pathology demonstrated that apigenin fights cellular oxidative
stress and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. When
oxidative stress occurs within arteries, it makes the blood
vessel less flexible and unable to properly relax, increasing
blood pressure.

Here's the news. Apigenin was found only in celery and a few
other vegetables: Chinese cabbage, bell pepper, garlic,
belimbi fruit, French peas, snake gourd, guava, wolfberry
leaves, daun turi and kadok, according to a University of
Putra Malaysia study.

From these studies it appears that celery can lower blood
pressure. But the exact amount of celery needed to achieve
the drop in blood pressure found in animals cannot be
determined until clinical trials are conducted on humans using
celery itself.

Celery Is High In Salt, So Is it Dangerous to Use Celery to
Lower Blood Pressure?

























How Much Celery Should You Eat to Lower Blood Pressure?

Elliott and Le in the original study warned that phthalides'
effectiveness had yet to be proved and, until then, they
cautioned against overeating celery.

Celery is high in salt (one stalk contains 32mg of sodium) and
lowering blood pressure is not usually equated with eating
high-sodium foods.

Do the sodium risks outweigh the phthalides benefits in
celery? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
recommended daily intake of sodium is 2,400 mg, the
equivalent of about 48 stalks of celery. Since 4 stalks of
celery, the amount tested in the study, only make up around
8 percent of your daily intake ,you’ll be safe to eat this
amount in addition to following a healthy, low-salt diet.

What Else Can Celery Do?

As well as lowering blood pressure, celery has also been
shown to lower cholesterol. In addition to the 7 percent drop
in cholesterol levels found in the University Of Chicago
Medical Center study, a 1996 study from the National
University of Singapore found celery extract reduced LDL
(bad) cholesterol in rats. However, when 3-n-butylphthalide
on its own was given to rats, there was no significant change,
leading researchers to believe “the effect of celery extract on
serum cholesterol levels… could be attributed to chemical
constituents other than 3-n-butylphthalide.” Further studies
are needed to fully demonstrate which compounds in celery
have an effect on cholesterol.

Celery is a good source of Vitamin C (3.1mg per 100g),
dietary fiber (1.6g per 100g), potassium, folate,
molybdenum, manganese and Vitamin B6. You can add celery
to soups to give it a salty flavor without increasing the
sodium content of your meal, or juice it for a healthy drink
mixed with tomatoes or other vegetables. While further
studies are needed to prove celery’s exact actions in lowering
blood pressure and cholesterol, it can be a real benefit to
your diet when eaten in moderation.




You're just getting started. Learn more about the relationship
between your diet and your risk for other diseases and
conditions:
Beets Lower Blood Pressure-But There's a Big
Catch / How Much Is Too Much Salt? /Sugar-The Disease
Connection / Are Diet Sodas Bad for Your Health? / Ideal
Breakfast for Diabetics / Ideal Breakfast for Arthritis /Healing
Foods Links /  Foods That Shrink Your Waist / Foods That
Lower Cholesterol/ VLDL-The Other Cholesterol/ Foods That
Reduce Blood Pressure


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