Is the juice worth the hype?
What you should know about the ‘superfood’ phenomenon, celery juice.
In a popular 2014 episode of the IFC hit, Portlandia, a well-intentioned celery salesman played by Steve Buscemi is tasked with the challenge of making celery the next big thing by the corporate honchos at Produce Sales Headquarters. When it became clear that Bloody Mary accoutrement, or buffalo wing garnish just wouldn’t cut it, the down-on-his-luck character must go to great lengths to get celery in the well-respected ranks of kale, Brussels spouts, and the like.
As it turns out, its been a few good years for the vegetable once mocked for being so bland that termination from corporate was effectively inevitable; celery is finally getting its moment in the sun, a la juicing. Yes, drinking celery juice for it’s supposed miracle-working health and wellness benefits is the ‘superfood’ phenomenon taking social media by storm. Is there any merit to the lofty benefits claimed by wellness wackadoos and more qualified professionals alike? We dissect.
WAIT, WHERE DID THIS “JUICE CRAZE” COME FROM?
Ever since Victoria Secret model Miranda Kerr revealed that her daily morning routine includes a large glass of fresh, cold pressed celery juice, others immediately hopped on the band wagon. The number of #celeryjuice posts on Instagram currently totals over 68,000 and articles discussing the potential benefits of the juice—everything from helping with digestive issues and detoxing to miraculously clearing skin and boosting energy levels—liter the internet. Are these benefits too good to be true? Is celery juice actually the miracle elixir social media is leading people to believe? Stay with us…
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1) The science on celery juice is still very young. To date, there is no concrete scientific evidence that there are any nutritional benefits to drinking celery juice that one cannot get from eating raw celery. Celery juice enthusiasts assert that by juicing celery, you create a more concentrated version of it, i.e. you are able to consume more celery (and thus more of its nutritional benefits) if it is in juice form. Drinking 16 oz of liquid is easier than eating an entire bunch of celery. Either way, celery juice has been accepted as safe for consumption, but there is no reason to believe it is a magical elixir that will turn you into a super model or give you super hero strength.
2) Raw celery is great for you. Celery is a very low calorie food that contains fiber, and minimal carbs. In its raw form, celery contains Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, riboflavin, manganese, and folate. It’s packed with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s been said that it can help reduce bloat because of the natural diuretic property of the vegetable (it is 95% water). While there have been no studies conducted about the health benefits of drinking celery in juiced form, there is plenty of research that supports the consumption of raw, whole celery.
3) The issue with juicing. Juicing poses concern because often in the juicing process, a fruit or vegetable’s inherent fiber is stripped out. The fiber found in vegetables is what lowers cholesterol, reduces inflammation, lowers risk factor for colon and breast cancer, and is what keeps you feeling full. It’s also 0 net carbs and 0 calories, so there is no need, or benefit at all, to stripping it out. As Tanya Zuckerbrot says, “there’s no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water.” If you want to consume celery in juice form, it is best to liquify the vegetable in a way that maintains its fiber content.
4) To reap all the benefits of celery in juice form, create a liquid by blending raw, chopped up celery in a blender with water, rather than using a traditional juicer, or going with a store-bought celery juice. By blending the celery with water, you can reap all the benefits of eating celery, like the anti-inflammatory properties, but in an easy to consume, drinkable form.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS DISCUSSED
- *One of the most important “rules” of the fad is to drink the juice on an empty stomach in the morning. The theory is drinking it before breakfast may increase hydrochloric acid production, which supposedly can help the body increase nutrient absorption throughout the day and aid in digestion. Again, there is no scientific evidence to date that supports this, Vitamin K is better absorbed along with fat, so taking it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning may not be as beneficial.
- Celery contains antioxidants including luteolins and apigenin, both are flavonoids that decrease inflammation, can help prevent cardiovascular disease and have neuroprotective properties. Some believe drinking the the juice every morning has helped with their pro-inflammatory conditions such as gout, IBS, has increased alertness and reduced blood pressure. It’s important to remember that many these claims are purely anecdotal. Correlation is different than causation, and there is no evidence to say that drinking celery juice can effectively help these conditions any more than eating large amounts of celery potentially could, and no scientific basis that celery is any sort of miracle drug either.
- People have claimed to see results in as little as 5 days to a week. “Results” can mean many things. Celery is 95% water, so one possible explanation is that users are simply jumping up in the morning and hydrating more than they normally would, and feeling the immediate benefits of proper hydration.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Celery is filled with numerous beneficial vitamins and minerals, and its a great food to incorporate in your diet. Drinking celery juice is a great way to take advantage of celery’s nutrients, as long as you’re sure to maintain the fiber in the juicing process. If you want to consume celery in juice form, liquify your celery by pulsing it in a blender with water (or ice).
Remember, celery, whether it is raw, or in liquid form, is not a cure all. It is in no way a magic bean that will fix all your problems. Like all foods, moderation is key, and it is still important to get a variety of different fruits and vegetables in your diet.