It’s lean, it’s green, and it’s taking over your Instagram feed. Celery juice is the latest diet craze to hit social media.
If you’ve seen the wellness headlines and glowing posts about this supposed miracle drink, you may have heard that it can clear acne, promote weight loss, change the body’s pH, and reduce acid reflux, among other cures. But is it really the miracle drink social media influencers claim, or just another flash-in-the-pan food fad? Let’s dive in to look at the evidence for (or against) the celery juice phenomenon.
A Bit Of Backstory
First of all, where on earth did the idea of juicing celery come from? Actually, juicing has a long history of popularity as a palatable way to take in high amounts of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. As far back as the first century B.C., the Dead Sea Scrolls recorded the mashing of pomegranates and figs as a health tonic. Then, juicing in its modern form really began to take root in the 1930s, when the first hydraulic food press hit the market, and by the 1980s, “The Juiceman” Jay Kordich’s infomercials were big business for selling blenders. Celery juice rides on the coattails of this history—so, as juice crazes go, this one isn’t necessarily new.
So Why Now? And Why Celery?
What sets celery juice apart from other juice cleanses of the past, however, may simply be its advent during the age of social media. The fanfare around celery juice began in 2017, not with newly published research on celery’s health benefits, but with posts from a handful of influencers. Most notable among them is Instagram’s “Medical Medium” Anthony William, who takes credit in his profile for being the “Originator of Global Celery Juice Movement.” (Judging by his 1.7 million followers, a lot of people agree.) The movement has grown exponentially in the last two years, spreading like wildfire on various social media platforms. To date, there are over 112,000 posts with the hashtag “celeryjuice” on Instagram.
William’s own feed is full of affirmations from folks who say the juice has changed their lives. Devotees claim in various posts that a daily glass of blended celery has eliminated their eczema, reduced symptoms of multiple sclerosis, healed small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and even helped them recover from cancer.
But, when it comes to diet, popularity doesn’t necessarily equate quality–and the recentness of celery juice’s rise to fame also means that there simply hasn’t been much time for research to be conducted on its benefits. Therefore, most evidence for its health effects comes from personal testimonies like those on William’s Instagram page.
The Science Backed Health Benefits Of Celery Juice
The good news about celery juice is that it certainly isn’t dangerous to try. After all, it’s just a vegetable. (William’s recipe literally reads “Rinse the celery and run it through a juicer.”) But if you’d rather see hard evidence before jumping on a wellness bandwagon, here’s what we know for sure about the health benefits of celery.
First, this ants-on-a-log veggie contains moderate amounts of several nutrients critical to human health. Highest among these is vitamin K, which is responsible for clotting blood and regulating calcium, and may also reduce bone loss. However, vitamin K is fat-soluble, meaning that it’s best absorbed when consumed with some source of fat. Drinking blended celery by itself doesn’t provide any fat, so your body won’t be able to absorb vitamin K very well from the green juice alone.
Other vitamins and
minerals found in smaller amounts in celery include vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium,
and folate. These micronutrients serve many functions, from helping grow and
repair tissue to boosting the immune system to improving vision. It’s important
to note, though, that a serving of one hundred grams of celery provides less
than ten percent of the daily value of each of them.
Additionally, flavonoid compounds in celery promote antioxidant activity within the body’s cells. Antioxidants help defend the body against the aging process, reduce inflammation, and can help ward off a number of chronic diseases. Then again, any foods that contain antioxidants can perform these functions—so there’s nothing especially remarkable about celery, especially as compared to other fruits or vegetables that may offer more benefits, like higher vitamin and mineral values and more fiber.
For some people, celery juice could be a smart choice simply because of its hydrating properties. Celery is actually 95% water. So if you struggle to consume enough fluids—and assuming you like the taste—celery juice could be a go-to hydrating beverage. (And, with its extremely low calorie count, it’s probably wise to consider it a beverage, rather than a healthy replacement for a full meal.)
In addition to these dietary benefits, celery juice has other things going for it, too. Unlike many popular health foods or supplements, celery juice is very low-cost, extremely easy to make, and (unless you’re allergic or consume it to excess) poses no adverse side effects. Plus, miracle weight loss claims aside, if you replace higher-calorie snacks with celery juice, logic dictates you’re bound to shed pounds. A single cup of celery contains just 16 calories.
Why Juice It?
In light of all the excitement around the juice, you may wonder about the reasoning behind drinking celery as a liquid. Does the chopping and spinning of your Magic Bullet literally perform some kind of magic on the raw veggies, imbuing them with extra-healthy properties? In reality, no. Blending doesn’t change anything about the nutrient content of celery. It simply makes a large amount of it go down easier. This way, you can take in the nutrients of an entire bunch of celery quickly (and without all the crunching).
On the other hand, some
people find the act of eating a food more satisfying than drinking it. So if
you’d like to experience the benefits of celery, but would rather crunch it
alongside a sandwich or enjoy it with a smear of peanut butter, feel free to
eat it in its original form instead of running it through a juicer. If you add a
fat like a nut butter or Ranch dressing, you’ll reap the benefits of more
vitamin K absorption anyway.
What Celery Juice (Probably) Can’t Do
No studies exist to confirm celery juice’s ability to heal any specific condition. The nutrients found in celery occur in such small amounts as to not be correlated with the healing of the ailments so many Instagrammers claim. Also, contrary to many an alkaline-dieter’s opinion, food can’t change the body’s pH levels, so celery won’t have an effect on your acid-base balance. Still, the mind can work its own powerful medicine. It’s possible that many celery juice cures have more to do with belief in the green stuff’s healing impact than with any physical mechanism. And if it works, there’s nothing wrong with a little placebo effect.
It’s quite possible that any vegetable, when juiced, could provide comparable (or superior) benefits to celery. So there’s probably no reason why celery makes better fodder for a healing juice than, say, spinach or eggplant. But if you’ve given celery juice a try and found your skin clearer, your mind sharper, or your blood sugar more stable, there’s no reason to stop drinking it.
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