Health

Surprise: Celery Juice Will Not Cure All of Your Health Issues

If you’ve been anywhere near Instagram lately, then you’ve seen the many glasses of glowing green #celeryjuice—and the equally glowing claims about the drink’s purported myriad health benefits. Kim Kardashian reportedly sips it for her psoriasis, while Jenna Dewan posted that she's hoping to get some anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, gut health-enhancing benefits from the concoction.

It’s being raved about on social media as a cure-all for Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, digestion, bloating, acne, high cholesterol, inflammation, liver health, and high blood pressure. As if that’s not enough to set off your B.S. meter, it’s even being touted as a treatment for addiction and mental illness.

But, can any of this be true? We looked into the existing research on this topic and spoke with a few dietitians to help us go through what the science does and doesn't tell us about celery juice and your health.

First off, let’s just admit that the idea of finding a single cure for all your health woes is really enticing.

Yeah, it would be awesome if a single food or drink could guarantee wellness—and we have a history of being susceptible to this kind of wishful thinking. “People just want one food to magically be it—this one thing they can do that will make all the difference in their health,” Lisa Young, R.D.N., C.D.N., Ph.D., adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, tells SELF.

We've certainly been here before. Think: Kale, lemon water, collagen powder, beet juice, spirulina, goji berries, chia seeds, etc. “There’s always a flavor of the moment that people latch onto,” Young says. “Celery just happens to be it at the moment.”

But when any one food is surrounded by so many different bold health claims, it warrants skepticism.

In the case of celery juice, the claims are grand—but the research is pretty much nonexistent, experts agree. “There’s no magic to it. The science is not there,” Young says.

“There might be pretty pictures on Instagram,” Keri Gans, R.D.N., C.D.N., nutrition consultant and author of The Small Change Diet, tells SELF. “But the assumptions about what celery juice can do are not being supported by sound conclusive evidence by the scientific community.”

Kim Larson, R.D.N. dietitian and health coach from Total Health in Seattle, tells SELF the same thing: “There is no current scientific research to support the trendy claims,” she says.

So we did our due diligence and scoured the research databases ourselves—and came up nearly empty. What we did find is a paltry handful of small papers. For a 2009 study published in Molecule, researchers in Serbia gave rats chemotherapy drugs and the juice of celery leaves (but not the roots) to see if it had any protective effect against side effects during treatment; the juice appeared to decrease the intensity of one of the oxidative stress markers they measured. And a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2014 found that supplements of apigenin, a flavonoid found in celery, may have helped slow the progression of gastritis and gastric cancer—in gerbils, that is.

There is one human pilot study, published in the Natural Medicine Journal in 2013, in which 30 patients with mild to moderate hypertension took daily celery extract supplements (not juice) for six weeks. After that time, the researchers saw a statistically significant decrease in participants' blood pressure. However, there was no control group—and the chief authors of the study were managing partners at the company that made the extract (so, not exactly neutral parties).

Does this lack of definitive research prove that celery juice can't possibly help with any of the health ailments we mentioned previously? Of course not—scientific studies take a significant amount of time and money, so sure it's possible that the health perks of celery juice just haven't been studied yet. But, without any conclusive research, it also means it's just as likely that drinking an enormous amount of celery water is doing absolutely nothing for your body. That distinction is important when faced with any new health fad—but especially one that promises loads of "research-backed" health benefits.

Of course, celery is a perfectly healthy and harmless food, as is the juice made from it.

Whole celery is actually mostly water—over 95 percent water by weight, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. It does have a little bit of fiber—1 gram per large stalk, according to the USDA—which is helpful for digestion and other bodily functions. But since you typically lose all the fiber in the juicing process, as Gans points out, the biggest benefit you're getting from celery juice is likely hydration. That's certainly not a bad thing, and it may even be responsible for making some celery juice fans feel better. But it's not exactly a miracle.

Like other vegetables, celery does contain vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin K (which supports healthy blood clotting) and potassium (which helps support body functions like a healthy blood pressure), Larson says. But you’re not actually getting anything from it that you can’t get elsewhere. “Celery doesn't really have much that other vegetables don't,” Young says. You’re better off eating a wide variety of the fruits and veggies you enjoy. “It’s less exciting I guess,” Young says, “but that’s all you need to do.”

Overall, experts say that if you like drinking celery juice, go for it. “There's nothing bad I can say about drinking celery juice,” Gans says, “so I wouldn’t tell anyone not to drink it." (As long as it’s in addition to a healthy diet, not in lieu of.) “If you want to have a cup at breakfast or lunch, bottoms up,” she adds. Just don’t expect any miracles.

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