The list of healthy drink trends spurred by social media is innumerable: from golden milk to matcha lattes to activated charcoal drink mixes. Now, you can add celery juice to the list.
The bright green beverage is taking over social feeds for its allegedly stellar health benefits (check out #CeleryJuice). The craze was started by the Medical Medium, author Anthony William, who has three New York Times best-selling books on natural food cures. According to William, whose fans include Pharrell, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Robert De Niro, everyone should be drinking 16 ounces of celery juice first thing in the morning to unlock a slew of medical benefits.
Fans of the vegetable juice, and of William, who carries no nutrition or medical degree, are blowing up Instagram with posts that claim celery juice improves gut health, fights cancer, clears up skin, flushes out viruses, and more. It’s being touted as a miracle cure. But, are any of these health claims legit?
“One food by itself cannot ‘cure,’” says Sandra Arévalo, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Foods that provide 20 percent or more daily value of nutrients are recognized to have high nutritional value.”
Knowing that, let’s take a look at celery’s nutritional makeup.
For starters, celery is super low in calories. One large stalk contains only 9 calories and is made up of about 60 percent water. One stalk also contains a healthy amount of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and potassium, says Arévalo, among other minerals. It’s especially high in vitamin K, containing 23 percent of a person’s daily value. “Celery is also super low in fats and carbohydrates and is a source of dietary fiber,” she adds.
Celery’s fiber content — though relatively low at 1 gram per large stalk — may help with digestion and lowering cholesterol, says Jessica Crandall Snyder, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Vital RD. “It acts as a Roto-Rooter on cholesterol building in artery walls,” she says.
“When you juice something, you have the machine do the work your body’s supposed to do in digesting”
Celery and celery juice appear to contain a good amount of antioxidants, too. A 2017 review of celery studies found that regularly eating celery may confer some healing properties, thanks to flavonoids and polyphenols in the veggie, which have been found to reduce inflammation, as well as lower the risk for cancer, diabetes, and more. In additional studies, celery has been shown to lower blood pressure (in rats, so take that with a hunk of salt) and potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among people. But just how much celery a person should be eating to actually gain these benefits is unknown.
“Some of the properties of celery extracts have been linked to increased fertility, antibacterials and anti-inflammatories, and lowering blood glucose and serum lipid levels,” says Arévalo. “However, there needs to be further research to conclude that there is a direct link. The amount of celery needed to get these benefits hasn’t been concluded.”
It’s important to keep in mind that while you’ll still consume nutrients by drinking celery as a juice, generally speaking, juicing decreases the roughage that raw celery provides.
“When you juice something, you have the machine do the work your body’s supposed to do in digesting,” says Crandall Snyder. “It decreases your sense of fullness and satiety, compared to eating a raw celery stick. You’re still getting the same amount of fiber, but it’s already broken down for you. It’s considered predigested.”
“You should be getting antioxidants and fiber from eating other fruits and vegetables throughout the day, too,” she adds. “Juicing may be a better way if you’re not getting enough vegetables in, volume-wise, and if you’re not wanting to eat it because of its stringy texture.”
As for William’s claim that you should be drinking 16 ounces of celery juice first thing in the morning to gain the most benefits? Experts say that’s largely bogus.
“You are typically dehydrated in morning when you wake up, so drinking a big glass of celery juice first thing might make it seem like you’re getting more benefits than you actually are,” says Crandall Snyder.
Drinking celery juice on an empty stomach may not be the most beneficial way to consume it anyway. “There are some nutrients that are absorbed better in presence of other nutrients,” says Arévalo. “In the case of vitamin K, it is better absorbed in the presence of fat. So, in this case, it’s better to combine celery with some kind of food high in good fats to help with vitamin K absorption.”
“On the other hand,” says Arévalo, “there are other nutrients [in celery] that are absorbed better by themselves, like calcium. So, I guess your choice depends on the benefits you expect to get from eating celery.”
Taken together, the bottom line is that celery juice is a very healthy drink, but it’s likely not the elixir Instagram claims it to be.
“There’s no magic behind celery juice other than the fact that you’re getting a very concentrated source of high-fiber being put into a refreshing beverage,” says Crandall Snyder.