Reviewed by Dr. Michael Kessler, DC
The biggest health trends are often completely unpredictable. Celery, whose previous claim to fame was as a flavorless, dippable sidekick to carrots or a texturizer in stews, is now a must-have for health. Celery juice has become this year’s superfood sensation, which begs the question: Is there any truth to the claims?
The list of celery juice benefits looks pretty impressive at first glance. Some of the reports circulating suggest that it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, weight-loss tool, antioxidant, and more. There are even suggestions that it lowers blood pressure, fights disease, and keeps your brain and liver healthy (aka detox).
These assertions aren’t exactly illogical. Celery (Apium graveolens), after all, is a plant-based food. And we know that plant-based foods—particularly green ones—are good for you.
Celery is a terrific source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can all contribute to better health. But as far as celery juice claims go, it’s possible that a reality check is in order. While the drink isn’t necessarily bad for you, there is a lack of evidence showing that it can boost your health directly.
Celery Juice Nutrition Facts
Celery, in its whole form, is very nutritious. It is as a juice, too. However, one key element is lost during juicing: fiber. Besides health benefits like improved digestion and cardiovascular health, fiber also prevents sugar spikes by slowing absorption and creates a feeling of fullness.
When the fiber is broken down, as it is in juice form, this means you’re getting straight sugar. Now, celery isn’t necessarily a high-sugar food—an eight-ounce serving of juice has nine grams of sugar—but when blended with other fruits to make a juice, it can become a very high-sugar treat.
According to the USDA, one cup of celery juice contains:
- 42 calories
- 215 mg of sodium
- 9 g of carbohydrates
- 4 g of fiber
- 6 g of sugar
It’s important to note the fiber content because it can be deceiving. If you take your celery juice with all the pulp, you will be getting some fiber. But most producers don’t sell it with pulp, so those four grams are nowhere to be found.
Because pure celery juice is too bitter to appeal to most people, it is often combined with other fruit and vegetable juices. Ready-made varieties are typically made with apple, pear, cucumber, cilantro, spinach, and lemons or limes. The end result can be a sugary concoction that comes in at 100-plus calories and 23 to 29 g of sugar.
Whole celery has good amounts of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic acid
Phytochemicals, as with all plant foods, are also an important component of celery’s makeup. Two antioxidants, in particular, may possess specific benefits: apigenin and luteolin. Research has indicated that these two compounds may provide many of celery’s potential health benefits. Most studies, however, have been done on rodents or using extracts, not celery juice.
5 Potential Benefits of Celery Juice (and Celery)
There are virtually no studies to suggest any benefit to celery juice specifically, and many of the claims about the drink come from three places: anecdotal evidence (personal stories), theories based on studies of specific nutrients in celery, and research noting the benefits of particular antioxidants found in celery.
Once again, celery is good for you. Pure celery juice probably is, too. Even some blends might be—they are all made from nutritious fruits and vegetables. But the health claims don’t always translate to practical, everyday use.
With this in mind, some of the potential benefits of celery include:
1. Lower Inflammation
A 2017 mice study found that luteolin, one of the active antioxidants in celery, was able to reduce inflammation in the lungs and nasal passages. The mice were given the extract 30 minutes prior to being exposed to allergens.
Another 2017 study indicated that apigenin, the other active antioxidant in celery, suppressed arthritis in mice. After treatment, mice showed less inflammation and fewer symptoms of arthritis. Researchers believe apigenin may suppress immune response to keep inflammation under control.
Trials to examine celery’s effect on inflammation in humans are still required.
2. Brain Benefits
Apigenin and luteolin may also offer protection from neurodegenerative conditions. Studies in rodents have shown that these antioxidants could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce brain cell damage, and improve learning and memory.
3. Improved Heart Health
Research has found that celery leaf and seed extracts can benefit heart health by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. One study found that celery leaf extract could lower “bad” LDL cholesterol in mice fed a high-fat diet.
Another study conducted on humans found that celery seed was able to reduce blood pressure. Thirty participants taking 75 mg of celery seed extract twice daily for six weeks observed significant blood pressure reductions.
4. Anti-Cancer Activity
Studies have shown that luteolin can stop the spread of certain cancer cells in rodents. The antioxidant may prevent cancer cells from spreading, potentially by stopping new blood vessels from forming around existing tumors.
5. Weight Loss Benefits
Celery may support your weight loss goals due to its low calorie content. If you start eating more celery instead of other high-sugar, high-calorie items, you will probably lose weight. Drinking celery juice may not be as effective because it is low in fiber. You’ll lose the satiety that comes with fiber, as well as potentially adding sugar.
Healthy Celery Juice Recipe
To make your own celery juice at home, you’ll need a juicer or blender. If you don’t have either, ready-made options are available online and in health food and juice stores.
Here’s what to do if you’re making it at home:
- 1 bunch celery
- 1 green apple (optional)
- 1 inch fresh gingerroot (optional)
- 1/2 cup water (optional)
For pure celery juice:
- Cut the bases and ends of the celery and rinse in a colander.
- Feed the celery through a juicer.
- Transfer to a large glass and drink.
For celery juice blend:
- Chop celery into one-inch pieces.
- Slice apple in half, then cut halves into wedges.
- Peel and slice gingerroot.
- Place all ingredients in a blender and add 1/2 cup water. Blend for a minute and strain juice through a sieve.
- Transfer to a large glass and drink.
Don’t Believe the Detox Hype
Celery is healthy, but neither it nor celery juice is a magical cure-all. Celery juice won’t “detox” your body—your liver does that. It’s also unlikely to drop pounds from your body or be the sole catalyst behind any of the purported health claims.
That said, it isn’t bad for most and is much better than reaching for a soda or sugary snack. Including celery as a juice—though it’s probably better whole and raw—into an otherwise healthy diet should keep you on track with your health goals.
It’s important to note, however, that some people who have genetic variations in genes that make enzymes to reduce oxalates can be at risk. Foods like celery contain high amounts of the compound oxalate, which can form calcium oxalate crystals in the body that may cause kidney stones and other tissue damage.
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