Should You Join the Cult of Celery Juice?
- Written By:Lauren Slayton
When my bookn The Little Book of Thin came out, I made the mistake of reading the online comments. I cannot recall what the multiple, positive reviews said. Instead, I remember one commenter calling my recommendations elitist for suggesting wild salmon and pricey kombucha. Well, this person would be thrilled (I hope!) about celery’s soaring popularity. There is nothing elitist about celery. Although, you will need a juicer if you’re going to partake in the latest craze. Here’s what you need to know about celery juice.
Where did this celery juice phenomenon come from?
Anthony William AKA Medical Medium is responsible for the celery juice enthusiasm. Skeptics will dismiss Williams — he’s said he’s heard voices from a young age and a portion of his diet advice stems from this. I am someone who loves research, evidence, and well-designed studies; however, the personal accounts of healing from celery juice are captivating. William’s Instagram feed is filled with testimonials. When you see someone go from suffering from eczema to cured and ecstatic, it’s impossible for curiosity not to be piqued.
How much celery juice does he suggest you drink?
Williams suggests 16 ounces of celery juice, on an empty stomach. This is approximately one bunch of celery.
What does celery juice allegedly help?
What doesn’t it help? Part of the allure (and for some, the turnoff) comes from words like “miracle” and “cure-all.” Celery juice is touted to improve everything from skin diseases to chronic pain, as well as digestive conditions.
What does celery offer nutritionally?
In terms of vitamins and minerals, celery is a great source of vitamin K (crucial for bone health) and a decent source of potassium, vitamin C and folate. However, it doesn’t seem that celery’s benefits stem from its vitamin content. Instead, celery has some interesting phytochemicals. One of them, apigenin, has been studied for anti-cancer properties. The apigenin in celery was shown to dramatically inhibit breast cancer cells in a study from the University of Missouri. There is also some research on celery reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Is juicing better or worse than consuming the whole vegetable?
Many nutritionists will caution that you don’t get the fiber in a juice. The Medical Medium and other juicing proponents are fine with that. Juice, by removing fiber, is digested more easily and faster. As a born-again-juicer (I used to just daily, then I got lazy and now, as an effort to nourish my teenagers before school, I have been juicing again), I’d point out that you consume a ton of vegetables when you juice. When was the last time you ate a bunch of celery in one sitting? Exactly. This is important as the nutrient content of our food is lower than it used to be, due to soil quality. One expert said that to get the iron from one 1950 apple, we’d have to eat 36 apples today.
If I’m going to juice, what should I think about?
Buy organic celery. Juicing extracts nutrients and concentrates them. We don’t want to chug concentrated pesticides. Celery is on the dirty dozen list for produce, meaning conventional celery has among the highest pesticide rates. On that same note, I’m not a fan of getting celery juice, or any other green juice in a plastic container. Why put nutrition gold in a potentially hormone-disrupting container? Additionally, try to use celery within a week of purchasing it. Some of the antioxidants appear to decrease over time.
Any celery-associated risks?
Some medications have a warning not to consume them with grapefruit juice. Celery and grapefruit juice both contain furanocoumarins. This compound can raise the blood levels of certain statins, blood pressure meds, and anti-depressant medications. Additionally, celery is one of the top fruit and vegetable allergies and it can be anaphylactic. So, I would definitely not juice celery if you’ve ever found your mouth to be itchy after eating it.
Does it have to be consumed on its own?
Here’s where my skepticism comes in. The Medical Medium and celery juice fanatics swear by drinking solely celery and discourage the addition of other vegetables. While I understand that adding fruits will counter some of the anti-inflammatory benefits, it’s hard for me to believe that adding ginger, mint or other ingredients to the juicer is problematic.
So, what’s the verdict on celery juice? As we say at Foodtrainers, yay or step away?
We aren’t telling our celery juice-enthused clients to stop the celery juice. However, I remain unconvinced that celery juice is as much of a cure-all as we’re led to believe. If you do any healthy behavior every day or make a non-sweet green juice daily, you’re going to see positive effects. Additionally, if you start the day with celery juice and follow it up with a bagel, you’re kind of wasting your time. No one superfood will counter a meh diet and lifestyle. And finally, celery is mostly water, so some of this hoopla may just be because people are better hydrated.
Lauren Slayton, MS RD is the founder of Foodtrainers and the author of the book The Little Book of Thin (Perigee 2014).