Celery juice has been in the background as a diet trend for weight loss for many years. But as from late last year, 2019, the hashtag #celeryjuice had a sudden spike in use. And celery juice became the next famous diet fad to follow. But what is all the hype about and is celery juice as healthy as the claims suggest?
Before we take a look at the health benefits and side effects of celery and celery juice, let’s discuss why this trend has become so popular.
Under the influence?
Unfortunately with Instagram being one of the most popular social media platforms around, it has also become a platform for “anyone” to become an influencer. Those that are able to become influencers are sadly using their popularity to spread information that could be false and not backed by science. This is especially true when it comes to providing medical information when they are not qualified to do so. “Medical Medium” Anthony William is one of the biggest influencers to promote celery juice, having no medical qualifications what so ever. Despite him writing an entire book about liver health, it does not make his word true. The same applies to his claims about celery juice that is mostly not backed by evidence or studies.
Just because an influencer or celebrity endorses a claim does not necessary make it true. Celebrities who endorse are mostly actors, musicians, sports or business professions with no medical backing. These claims should be backed by gold-standard scientific evidence. Don’t be a sheep and follow whatever you read or hear. Do the research and make up your own mind about it.
Before you change your mind and start to think that celery and celery juice is bad for you, let’s get into the details, to see what’s healthy about it, good and bad. Then you can make your mind up for yourself.
Health Benefits of Celery
Crispy, juicy celery in its whole form, raw, cooked or juiced has many positive health benefits. There are science-backed claims about celery and it’s benefits, suggesting that eating celery is very healthy, but what about as a juice? Unfortunately, there is not much evidence that supports celery juice being a better substitute. In fact, it could be worse as you might consume too much which could be harmful. But like any vegetable, fruit or other food, it should be eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
1. Low Calories and Weight Loss
On average, one medium celery stalk contains around 6 calories (1) This makes it a very low calories vegetable and a perfect snack to crunch on if you are wanting a hydrating and light snack. It can work well if you pair it with peanut butter or hummus if you want to add some extra protein and aren’t worried about adding a little more calories. There is a current trend going around that celery juice helps with weight loss, but, there is no scientific evidence to back this. As it is low in calories, if you have celery sticks or juice in place of a higher calorie, more unhealthy snack, then you would be more likely to lose or at least maintain a healthy weight.
A small glass of celery juice on average contains 40 calories if you don’t add anything else to it. It can be quite bitter tasting, so adding something like apple can make it more palatable. If you don’t enjoy munching on the sticks, then a benefit of celery juice is that is it easier to consume, refreshing and equivalent to eating 2 – 3 stalks. You can blend it up to include the pulp (rich in fibre) or juice it to remove the pulp. You can use the pulp to make celery pulp fritters if you don’t want to waste it (2).
2. Rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients
Celery is rich in vitamins and minerals and other important nutrients. Its main nutrients include:
- Vitamin A – good for your immune system, night vision and skin
- Vitamin C – important for immune health, wound healing and maintaining healthy skin and cells
- Vitamin K – needed for clotting and wound healing
- Calcium – important for bone and teeth health and regulating muscle contractions (including the heart)
- Phosphorous – good for healthy bones and teeth, and also helps in releasing energy from foods
- Potassium – involved in fluid balance and heart health
- Magnesium – involved with the parathyroid gland, which produces hormones involved in bone health
- Iron – vital for making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body
- Fibre – important for bowel health
- Other – it also contains some vitamin B’s, zinc, Betacarotene, phytonutrients and flavonoids
3. May help Prevent Chronic Disease and inflammation
Celery is rich in many nutrients which help the body fight against developing acute and chronic diseases. One main nutrient to help are flavonoids which celery is rich in. Flavonoids are a group of natural compounds or substances found in fruits, vegetables, grains, chocolate, tea and wine (3). They have many health benefits, including having anti-inflammatory properties, which phytonutrients also may provide. Some studies have shown ties to a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (4). However, more research is needed to prove these.
Flavonoids are found in many different foods as mentioned above. Just because celery if rich in this does not mean it is the only one to provide it.
4. Lower Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Due to its fibre content, celery may play a role in helping to lower cholesterol levels. This is because fibre can help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the blood (5).
A study done on humans looked at the effects of celery seed extract given to hypertensive patients for six weeks (6). Results showed that blood pressure was reduced. However, there is still more research needed to be done on the effects of celery and cholesterol and blood pressure.
Possible Side Effects of Having Too Much
Celery and celery juice does come with some side effects and may not be suited for everyone. It would be best for you to eat in moderation if you can tolerate it. Having celery juice means having a much higher concentration of celery, so if you consume it too often it may be more harmful for you than healthy.
1. Salt Content
Celery juice contains around thirty milligrams of sodium in a medium stalk. Individuals need to exercise caution when it comes to ingesting sodium, especially those with heart or kidney complications.
A diet with high sodium content can cause fluid retention and increase blood pressure, two factors that can lead to the emergence and development of serious health complications. However, ingesting celery and celery juice daily shouldn’t pose a problem for many people and you could include it as part of a healthy nutritional intake.
Celery, like many types of foods, contain toxic elements. If you eat too much of it, it could be harmful with some unpleasant effects. One component found in celery that could harm you is a chemical known as psoralen (7). This is known to react to sunlight. Ingesting foods that are high in this chemical such as celery can gradually enhance your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. Individuals sensitive to this chemical can get an allergy reaction from simply coming into contact with it.
Another possible side effect of too much celery is that it may cause goitres (abnormally large thyroid gland) (8). Large amounts of raw or uncooked celery (as found in juice) can interfere with the thyroid by affecting the process of iodine function and cause the thyroid gland to become extra-large. If you get this, you will notice it as a swelling in your neck. It may also cause breathing difficulties and hypothyroidism.
Home Recipes to Prepare Celery Juice
Although the benefits of celery juice on its own have not scientifically been proven, there is supporting evidence around the benefits of celery as a whole. Thus, having celery as part of your dietary intake, in the form of juice, raw or cooked will provide some good health benefits.
If you prefer to have it as a juice, beware of the potential harm it could cause if you have too much. If you have a small amount such as 2 – 3 stalks, it is likely to be a safe amount if consumed once in the day. But this does not have to be juiced or juiced alone. You can blend or juice it with other fruits and veg to get in extra important nutrients.
What you need
- 2 – 3 sticks celery, fairly fresh and washed
- Knife and chopping board
- Juicer or blender
- After the celery is washed, the ends and leaves should be chopped off
- Take the celery stalks and feed them to the juicer
- Drink up immediately or make extra and keep in a sterilised and sealed bottle for up to 48 hours in your refrigerator.
- If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a blender. Mix with a 1/4 cup. of water and blend. Then strain through a sieve or clean tea towel to squeeze out the juice.
- Alternatively, if you want to drink the pulp and fibre with it, blend up with water and enjoy.
The Final Word
While celery in any form has many proven benefits, it does not have to be in a juice form. Celery has an array of nutrients, but the same can be said for most fruit and vegetables. Like with any food, it’s best to not go overboard and consume in moderation. If you choose to make celery juice part of your daily intake, consume it in smaller amounts and err on the side of caution until proven otherwise.