Does celery juice live up to the hype?
I’ve consumed more than my share of the classic "ants on a log" peanut butter and raisin celery snack and I was surprised when my son (who works at an organic food store) told me that many customers are asking for celery juice, straight up.
Juicing vegetables is no longer a fad, and in fact the Dietary Guidelines now include recommendations on juicing. Here are a few key things to keep in mind with juice...
- Juicing is one acceptable way to incorporate a wide variety of vegetables and fruits into our diets, but the recommendation is to not rely on juice as the sole source of fruit and veggies. Be sure to include raw, fresh veggies as well as cooked vegetables along with your vegetable juice.
- Choose juices that do not use added sugar, even natural-sounding sugars like honey, raw sugar, maple syrup, or molasses.
- There is no evidence showing health benefits of a juicing detox, cleanse, or fast. Our bodies naturally filter and remove toxins, and we don’t need vegetable juice to do that for us.
- A diet that contains only vegetables and fruit is missing protein and fat as well as important vitamins and minerals. If the skin and pulp are removed in the juicing process, the amount of fiber is greatly reduced.
- Fresh juice may contain harmful bacteria if not pasteurized. Unpasteurized or raw juices are not recommended for anyone at increased risk of foodborne illness, such as children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Actors, models, and social media influencers promote celery juice for a wide variety of health reasons that make it sound like the perfect food to cure any illness, boost energy levels, and create smooth, glowing skin. The science, however, isn’t as nearly as robust as social media would like us to believe. Let's take a look...
Like other vegetables, celery is low in calories and contains fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. One cup of diced celery contains 16 calories, 3 grams carbohydrate, 0.7 grams protein, 0.2 grams fat and 1.4 grams fiber. It is a very good source of folate and potassium. According to Nate Ryan, sales associate at New Morning Natural Foods in Manchester Center, Vermont, 1-2 bunches of celery, or about 4-6 cups of diced celery, makes 16 ounces of juice. The fresher the celery, the higher the water content and the less that is needed when juicing.
Celery’s nutrient claim to fame comes from its phytonutrient content, especially the antioxidants that help decrease free radical damage to cells, blood vessels, and organs and promote overall health. While there is very little human research on the possible benefits of consuming celery or celery juice, animal studies have shown that celery extracts help decrease inflammation in the dietary tract. Celery contains non-starch polysaccharides that are made from pectins instead of simple sugars such as apiuman that may play an important role in decreasing inflammation. Research on rats has shown possible benefits of celery in heart disease, gout, fertility, and blood sugar levels but human research is needed to truly understand the possible benefits.
Celery is one of the foods listed on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 foods most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. Because of the risk of contamination, the EWG recommends using organic celery. If that’s not possible, be sure to thoroughly wash celery before eating or using in juice.
Store celery in a plastic bag in the salad drawer in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days to preserve the most nutrients.
Include the leaves, which are higher in Vitamin C and potassium, as well as the stalks in juicing.
People who take Warfarin or coumadin, a drug often used to help decrease risk of blood clots, need to be especially cautious with foods that are high in Vitamin K such as dark green leafy vegetables. Celery typically isn’t included on lists of foods high in Vitamin K because 1 cup diced celery contains 30 mcg, which is low compared to 200-500 mcg of Vitamin K found in dark green leafy vegetables. However, due to the amount of celery used in juicing, the Vitamin K can add up rapidly.
Consuming a wide variety of different types of vegetables, especially different colors of vegetables such as red beets or tomatoes, yellow or orange squash or carrots, white or brown cauliflower or parsnips, blue or purple cabbage or eggplant as well as green celery or spinach provides the greatest variety of healthful antioxidants.
Juicing vegetables and fruit can be an easy way to incorporate more healthful foods into your diet. However, there is nothing magic about juicing. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CHWC
- USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center. Juicing 101: Nutrition Tips for Consumers. https://www.nutrition.gov/subject/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/juicing-101 last updated 9-6-18; accessed 9-8-18.
- The World’s Healthiest Foods. Celery. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=14 accessed 9-8-18
- Phone conversation with Nate Ryan from New Morning Natural Foods in Manchester Center, Vermont. http://www.newmorningfood.com/ 9-10-18
- Kooti W, Daraei N. A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery (Apium graveolens L). Journal of Evidence-based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 2017;22(4):1029-1034. doi:10.1177/2156587217717415.
- Environmental Working Group. Dirty Dozen: EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php accessed 9-8-18.
- National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Important Information You Need to Know When You are Taking Warfarin (Coumadin) and Vitamin K. https://www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/patient_education/drug_nutrient/coumadin1.pdf accessed 9-9-18.
- Juliann Schaeffer. Color Me Healthy – Eating for a Rainbow of Benefits. Today’s Dietitian. Vol. 10, No. 11, p. 34.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.