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In my Daily Dozen, I recommend at least one daily serving of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, two daily servings of greens, the healthiest foods on the planet, and two servings a day of other vegetables, such as celery.

Celery is unique in that it is one of two vegetables that may actually become healthier through cooking. No matter how you prepare them—even by boiling—celery, as well as the humble carrot, appear to gain in antioxidant power. Just don’t eat too much before going out in the sun. Read about the phototoxic compounds in the Celery Sun Rash section of my book How Not to Diet.

Working towards a weight-loss goal? You have another reason to reach for celery. The biggest influence on calorie density is not fat but water content. Since water adds weight and bulk without adding calories, the most calorie-dense foods and the most calorie-dense diets tend to be those that are dry. But some vegetables are mostly water: Cucumbers, turnips, bok choy, summer squash, zucchini, and celery may top out at 95 percent water. They’re basically water in vegetable form.

What did the Global Burden of Disease Study identify as the primary cause of Americans’ death and disability? The typical American diet. What’s more, inadequate vegetable intake was determined to be our fifth-leading dietary risk factor, nearly as bad as our consumption of processed meat.

A more plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or reverse some of our leading causes of death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, and may improve not only body weight, blood sugar levels, and ability to control cholesterol, but also our emotional states, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, sense of well-being, and daily functioning.

Image Credit: Mabel Amber / Pixabay. This image has been modified.

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