Celery Seed (Apium graveolens)
Fast facts: may help prevent certain cancers, regulates blood pressure, reduces cholesterol
Celery seed adds a distinctive bite to sauerkraut, a fine-edged sharpness to coleslaw and a tangy zip to soups, stews and salad dressings.
Yet along with its refreshing flavor, scientists have found that celery seed may also be adding protection against cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
In a study for the National Cancer Institute, Luke Lam, Ph.D., and his colleagues at LKT Laboratories in St. Paul, Minnesota, have been analyzing the chemical constituents of celery seed oil and their effect on living beings.
"We isolated five compounds of interest," says Dr. Lam, who was formerly a researcher at the University of Minnesota. "Then we took three of those compounds and looked for their ability to prevent tumor formation in animals."
The result? "The compound sedanolide was the most active," says Dr. Lam. It and a related compound -- butyl phthalide -- reduced the incidence of tumors in laboratory animals anywhere from 38% to 57%. Whether celery can help prevent cancer in people as well as in animals is not yet known.
Studies also suggest that celery seed may give people an edge on another health front: lower blood pressure. So reports William Keller, Ph.D., professor and head of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutics at the Northeast Louisiana University School of Pharmacy in Monroe.
In one study at the University of Chicago, laboratory animals given a daily dose of butyl phthalide experienced a 12 percent reduction in their systolic (the top number) blood pressure over a four-week period. What's more, laboratory studies also indicate that butyl phthalide may help reduce high cholesterol.
If you'd like to try celery seed for yourself, you can prepare a tea by pouring boiling water over one teaspoon of freshly crushed seeds. Let it steep for 10 to 20 minutes before drinking.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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