Like cauliflower and kale, celery is a vegetable that definitely has a good PR agent. Over the past decade, it went from being a flavorless crunchy salad bar addition to a wellness staple thanks to the ascendance of celery juice. But there’s another aspect of celery that has been almost criminally overlooked: celery seeds.
Celery seed, which come from wild celery plants, has long been used as a common pickling ingredient, and for good reason. “The celery seed gaining popularity comes from wild celery, related to commercial celery we find in stores, and has a stronger and earthier flavor,” says Kelly Jones, RD.
However, celery seed has also been linked with a few health benefits; it is a mainstay of Ayurvedic medicine and other herbal traditional healing practices to treat a variety of ailments, from inflammation to arthritis. While Jones says more scientific research is needed to conclusively support these uses, there are some fairly legit celery seed benefits that make the spice worth adding to your pantry. Here’s what you need to know.
5 celery seed benefits for your health
1. It could improve your blood pressure
“A rat study showed an anti-hypertensive effect, but more human research is needed,” says Jones. However, celery seed has some properties, including calcium (which supports heart contractions) and caffeic acid (which is a diuretic), which Jones says could contribute to improved blood pressure.
2. It’s rich in iron
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia (aka low amounts of healthy red blood cells), impacting women, children, and athletes most often. “It can lead to not only low physical and mental energy levels, but also a weakened immune system,” Jones says. A tablespoon of celery seed contains 17 percent of the recommended daily value of iron, which is a significant boost for at-risk groups or those looking to increase their hemoglobin levels.
3. It might ease arthritis
“Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center suggests celery seed [can be] used for treating arthritis and gout as well as reducing inflammation, due to its potential diuretic properties,” says Jones. So, if you are having joint issues and inflammation, it might help ease tension and provide relief.
4. It contains antioxidants
Antioxidant effects are seen via celery seeds when used as part of an overall balanced diet rich in other antioxidants as well. “A small review study found several potent antioxidants in celery seed that can work to protect the body,” Jones says. Yet, since there are tens of thousands of antioxidants that work together to protect cells from damage and slow the progression of age-related diseases, it’s important to have a varied diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
5. It might strengthen your bones
“Celery seed can support bone health as a serving contains over 10 percent of the daily value for calcium and close to 10 percent of the daily value for magnesium,” says Jones. Calcium and magnesium can help lower risk of osteoporosis, fractures, and injury, so pair celery seeds with other bone-boosting foods, like cheese and yogurt, leafy greens, and fish for the best benefits.
Are there any risks or downsides to celery seed?
Almost anyone can enjoy celery seed, but you might want to avoid it without your doctor’s permission if you have certain conditions. “It might interfere with thyroid medications and blood thinners, and it can lead to complications for pregnant women and those with any inflammatory kidney conditions,” says Jones. Check with your PCP to be safe.
How to use celery seed in your cooking
Thankfully there are lots of ways to easily incorporate celery seed into your cooking. “Celery seed is known to pair well with tomatoes, so it can amp up the nutrient density of your Bloody Mary or tomato sauce if you add it ground,” Jones says. If you enjoy a morning shake or post-workout smoothie, you can also add celery seed to your blender along with apples and kale to add some nuance to the flavors.
“In ground form, celery seed can be added to a spice rub for poultry,” she says, so try it out with chicken for your next outdoor BBQ this summer. “Additionally, you can use the whole seeds as a topper for salads and grains, or vegetable-based side dishes and incorporate them for at-home pickling,” she says. It’s super versatile, so play around and see which celery seed recipe suits you best.