As a society, we are constantly looking for quick fixes and the next panacea. The recent celery juice craze is testament to just that. Celery juice has recently received credit for everything from weight loss to glowing skin. While these claims appear mostly anecdotal, and the research on celery ‘juice’ is scarce, what we do know is that celery is rich in antioxidants, nutrients, electrolytes and enzymes. A few animal studies have shown that celery extracts may help lower cholesterol, inflammation, blood pressure, aid in digestion, immunity and liver health. I am all for finding natural remedies to diseases or ailments and I’d give celery juice a shot before a pharmaceutical drug if I did suffer from them but there’s a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of getting on the celery juice bandwagon;
1. No juice, supplement, single vegetable or herb can remedy the effects of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. Be it celery juice, apple cider vinegar, or the next coined ‘superfood’ - each of which may have their benefits, it is important not to get into the mindset of thinking you have a hall pass for living unhealthily since you’re drinking a shot of celery juice everyday. If you are seeking relief from a health issue using natural remedies, take a functional or holistic approach to the problem, speak to a holistic/functional health professional and try to understand the root causes. This way you can find the best action plan to address all aspects of your health from nutrients, lifestyle, stress and more.
2. We often tend to isolate nutrition to the benefits of a single food or nutrient instead of looking at the diet as a whole. Sure celery is nutrient dense and has many great health benefits, but so do other vegetables. Nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes work synergistically to perform numerous biochemical processes in our bodies to keep us thriving. Don’t wait for the next food to be coined a ‘superfood’. All whole foods are ‘super’! Get as many colorful veggies into your diet as you can- you want a wide spectrum of nutrients from a variety of foods.
3. Lastly, one of the great benefits of vegetables is their fiber content. We need fiber in our diets for numerous reasons, and juicing gets rid of all the fiber. That being said, adding a shot of celery juice to an already balanced diet and healthy lifestyle doesn’t have many down sides for an otherwise healthy individual. However, if you are on medications like warfarin, statins or anti anxiety drugs, it is important to note that celery like grapefruit contains a compound called furanocoumarins which is known to raise blood levels of these medications. Furthermore, if you are prone to kidney stones or have chronic kidney disease, note that celery is high in oxalates and juicing increases their concentration. High concentration of oxalates may exacerbate or potentially cause kidney stones or kidney failure.
Bottom line: If you’re an otherwise healthy individual and you feel that adding a shot of celery juice to your balanced diet helps in some way, go ahead and try it. Of course, if you are on certain medications and/ or are prone to kidney problems, I would advise against it for reasons mentioned above. And keep in mind that other vegetables have numerous benefits too, celery juice is neither a ‘cure all magic potion’ nor a ‘hall pass’, but rather may serve as an aid or nutrient boost to an already balanced diet and lifestyle.
Shonali is a nutrition science adjunct professor at CUNY and an integrative registered dietitian at Lorraine Kearney Nutrition, specializing in endocrine and GI health. Her prior experience expands across various environments, from impoverished communities in urban India to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Her own diagnosis of PCOS planted her growing passion and expertise in the field. She is passionate about functional medicine and sustainable agriculture as nutrition begins from the soil.