Are There Health Benefits of Celery Juice?

If you’re living in the year 2019 and use social media, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the celery juice craze. People claim to experience multiple health benefits of celery juice such as improved skin integrity, better digestion, and cured psoriasis. The leader of the movement even goes so far as to say that it cures chronic illness.

To assess the claimed benefits of celery juice, I’m going to address the claims made by it’s leader Anthony William. William has made most of the claims behind the craze but is not a licensed medical professional.

He provides a disclaimer that his suggestions are not medical advice nor should they replace medical advice, simply to legally protect himself. Yet in reality he’s inappropriately telling the public to use celery juice to manage their medical issues.

The reason why I’m addressing William’s claims is because whether intentional or not, most claims in the media regarding the benefits of celery juice stem from William’s website and books.

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Celery Juice Craze Claims

These are just a few of the claims of health benefits of celery juice and my best attempt to address them.

1. Celery juice has anti-inflammatory properties which heal autoimmune diseases

Firstly, does celery juice have anti-inflammatory properties? Yes. Celery contains well-known antioxidants called flavonoids (1). Dietary antioxidants are important to reduce inflammation, as chronic inflammation can lead to a number of diseases (2).

But William does not just suggest that celery juice helps promote inflammation, he goes so far as to say that it ‘restores the health’ of people with ‘chronic and mystery illnesses’. He specifically focuses on autoimmune diseases.

Likewise there are many studies that observe the positive effects of flavonoids on inflammation. However, many of these studies are performed in vitro, making it difficult to assess how they will precisely interact with human tissue.

Many other studies have been performed in rats which show more promise (3,4). However, many of these studies combat inflammation induced by chemicals such as chloroform or pesticides– not chronic diseases. Although we can confirm that flavonoids reduce inflammation in a rat, that does not prove that they reduce inflammation induced by human auto-immune or chronic diseases (as promised by William). Consequently, we cannot conclude that reducing inflammation in chronic disease is one of the true benefits of celery juice.

In addition, many studies performed in vivo are performed with flavonoid extracts. These extracts are applied directly to tissue or ingested by the organism at high concentrations. Consequently, we cannot conclude that the body will respond to flavonoids the same way when consumed in something like celery juice as the process, concentration, and bio availability will vary. In addition, a group of researchers suggest that dietary flavonoid concentrations are too low to induce the promising effects reflected by in vitro studies (5).

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2. Its ‘mineral salts’ aid digestion

Do I think celery juice can help with digestion? Probably! But not because of it’s ‘mineral salt‘ content. Many claim that one of the benefits of celery juice include digestion aided by its ‘mineral salts’.

The recommended allowance of sodium is 2,300 mg per day. A medium stalk of celery has 32 mg of sodium (6). That’s 1.4% of the recommended allowance per day.

It’s well known that sodium is needed for normal bodily functions. However, I can’t find any research discussing direct dietary effects on digestion. Especially considering that we already consume enough sodium, if not too much. In fact, the only research I did find suggested that high salt intake may actually reduce enzyme excretion (7) or has no effect whatsoever (8).

Williams claims that not all salt is created equally and that the ‘mineral salt’ in celery juice is healthier, but that’s simply not true. Salt has minerals, and the mineral content of each salt can vary. However, the mineral content in salt is so minimal, with such minimal variability among different types. For that reason, it’s incredibly unlikely that consuming salt from an alternative source will make a difference (9, 10).

If you are experiencing better digestion from celery juice, I’m going to throw out three possibilities (the third which may anger you, but you should consider).

  1. Celery juice has plenty of water. Water is good for digestion (11).
  2. Celery juice has it’s fiber removed making it easier to digest.
  3. Special attention to your body (such as drinking celery juice) creates a placebo effect.
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3. It aids in digestion by strengthening stomach acid

William claims that the mineral salts in celery juice strengthen hydrochloric acid (HCl) in your stomach, the substance responsible for digestion in the stomach. But is increased HCl really one of the benefits of celery juice?

Let me clear this up fast. The strength of HCl is based on it’s acidity. The pH of HCl is 3.0 (12) which is very acidic. Celery has a pH between 5.6-6.0 (13), which is mildly acidic, and much less acidic than HCl. Sodium chloride solutions (which is found in salt) has a pH of about 7 (which is neutral) (14). In fact, most sodium compounds tend to be more alkaline (12).

Consequently, even if a single stalk of celery does influence the pH of the stomach, it would only make it more alkaline, decreasing the strength of HCl.

The celery juice craze has created so many false claims

Those above are just a few. I was going to attempt to address them all but after reading through all of Williams’ claims I’ve realized it’s not necessary. Williams’ supports all of his claims by stating “science has just not discovered this yet [but I have]”. He claims scientific theories of autoimmune diseases have no base, only to provide an alternative solution of his own baseless theory.

The reason why I’m focusing on Williams’ claims is because they are the root for most of the claims made in the mainstream media about the benefits of celery juice. They are incredibly unfounded and not based on science.

Yes, people are reporting experiencing many positive benefits of celery juice. I’m not going to discredit that. However, we cannot yet prove why, neither can these folks, and neither can William. It’s likely to be a number of factors, some I mentioned earlier. It’s also likely that there may have been previous gaps in the diet that are now being filled. But there is no evidence-based studies which provide explanation for all people.

The reason why I stress the importance of avoiding making unstudied claims is because promoting an unstudied fad can be very damaging. There are many people convinced that fads like celery juice can cure their chronic illnesses when it’s simply not true. If you believe in celery juice, instead of suggesting others follow suit, support the research to study the effects.

Actual Benefits of Celery Juice

1. It has antioxidants

It’s well known that antioxidants have protective and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. But all fruits and vegetables (and even grains!) contain antioxidants. Certainly the best way to have a diet full in antioxidants is to eat a variety of foods varying in color.

As mentioned above, antioxidants are beneficial. However, still we have to do a lot more research to completely understand the details of dietary effects on chronic disease. We also don’t know the concentration of flavonoids in celery juice and how it directly effects our body. However, as mentioned above, it’s unlikely to show the same benefits produced by ‘promising’ in vitro studies.

2. It’s hydrating

In short, adequate water intake is good for us and celery juice has plenty of it. It’s important for digestion, blood pressure regulation, skin elasticity, and normal bodily functions (15). Likewise, all fruits and vegetables are primarily made of water, supporting these functions.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-drinking-water-1458671/

3. It has some Vitamin A and Vitamin K

A stalk of celery provides some Vitamin A but not a substantial amount. It also provides 9.5-13% of the recommended adequate intake for Vitamin K (16). Vitamin K is an important nutrient for bone, blood, and cognitive health (16).

Should you drink celery juice?

Celery, like all vegetables, has it’s benefits. But the bottom line is, it’s mostly just water. Do you actually need to drink celery juice to experience similar benefits? It’s unlikely.

Every so often, the media awards a halo to a new fruit or vegetable. It puts the food in a spotlight, claiming that it’s the “cure all” for all problems. However, that’s simply not true. All foods provide us some benefit, but there is no single food that is the magic bullet. A healthy diet is not one that includes celery juice, but contains a variety of foods from all food groups, in varying forms.

If you’re enjoying celery juice and seeing short term benefits, enjoy it. But before assigning it magical powers because you are seeing some benefits, remember that there could be many reasons why you’re seeing those benefits.

In addition, if you have a chronic illness it is always important to talk to your doctor and Registered Dietitian before making changes to your diet.

Sources

  1. Kooti W, Daraei N. A Review of the Antioxidant Activity of Celery ( Apium graveolens L). J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(4):1029-1034.
  2. Pol Merkur Lekarski. The role of flavonoids in the modulation of inflammation. 2016 Feb;40(236):134-40.
  3. Cao, J., Zhang, X., Wang, Q., Jia, L., Zhang, Y., & Zhao, X. (2011). Influence of flavonoid extracts from celery on oxidative stress induced by dichlorvos in rats. Human & Experimental Toxicology,31(6), 617-625. doi:10.1177/0960327111426585
  4. Popović, M., Kaurinović, B., Trivić, S., Mimica-Dukić, N., & Bursać, M. (2006). Effect of celery (Apium graveolens) extracts on some biochemical parameters of oxidative Stress in mice treated with carbon tetrachloride. Phytotherapy Research,20(7), 531-537. doi:10.1002/ptr.1871
  5. Popović, M., Kaurinović, B., Trivić, S., Mimica-Dukić, N., & Bursać, M. (2006). Effect of celery (Apium graveolens) extracts on some biochemical parameters of oxidative Stress in mice treated with carbon tetrachloride. Phytotherapy Research,20(7), 531-537. doi:10.1002/ptr.1871
  6. Basic Report:  11143, Celery, raw. Food Composition Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release. USDA. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2914?manu=&fgcd= Accessed February 2019.
  7. Wang C, Huang Z, Yu K, et al. High-Salt Diet Has a Certain Impact on Protein Digestion and Gut Microbiota: A Sequencing and Proteome Combined Study. Front Microbiol. 2017;8:1838. Published 2017 Sep 21. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.01838
  8. Wang, C., Huang, Z., Yu, K., Ding, R., Ye, K., Dai, C., . . . Li, C. (2017). High-Salt Diet Has a Certain Impact on Protein Digestion and Gut Microbiota: A Sequencing and Proteome Combined Study. Frontiers in Microbiology,8. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.01838
  9. DRAKE, S. and DRAKE, M. (2011), COMPARISON OF SALTY TASTE AND TIME INTENSITY OF SEA AND LAND SALTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. Journal of Sensory Studies, 26: 25-34. doi:10.1111/j.1745-459X.2010.00317.x
  10. Gunners, K., BSc. (2018, October 19). Types of Salt: Himalayan vs Kosher vs Regular vs Sea Salt. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/different-types-of-salt
  11. Cassoobhoy, A. (Ed.). (2017, November 27). How can water affect your digestion? Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/qa/how-can-water-affect-your-digestion
  12. PH of Common Acids and Bases. (2016, April 20). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from http://www.aqion.de/site/191
  13. Engineering ToolBox, (2003). Food and Foodstuff – pH Values. [online] Available at: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/food-ph-d_403.html [Accessed 11 Feb 2019].
  14. Sodium chloride. (2019, February 02). Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_chloride#pH_of_sodium_chloride_solutions
  15. Zelman, K. M. (2008, March 8). Why Drink More Water? See 6 Health Benefits of Water. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water
  16. LD, M. W. (2018, January 22). Vitamin K: Health benefits, daily intake, and sources. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219867.php

Author: Stephanie

As a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, I'm on a mission to help you enjoy eating a balanced diet by cooking with #thatcertaintouch .

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