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Celery Juice: Fad or Functional?

You’ve probably heard about celery juice as a current trend online, promoted on social media, and probably recommended by someone you know! You may have read about its extensive lists of benefits such as its ability to improve acne, lower cholesterol, fight inflammation, and prevent dehydration. In this post we’ll review the research-backed benefits and which claims may be overstated.

What is celery juice?

Celery juice is simply the juice that comes from celery stalks, either by running it through a juicer or blending a few stalks with some water! A juicer will remove the fiber which can concentrate the nutrients, while blending the stalks will conserve the fiber and still provide all the same nutrients just in lesser amounts. You may prefer blending celery stalks and water together if you do not want to buy a juicing machine.

What can celery juice do for you?

According to the USDA food data central, one cup of celery juice is considered a good source of potassium at 614 mg per cup and vitamin K at 69 micrograms per cup. It also contains vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, sodium, choline, magnesium, and folate.

Due to its water and electrolyte content, celery juice can be very hydrating. Electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, calcium, and chloride are important in in maintaining your body’s water content, acid-base balance, removing waste from cells, ensuring nutrients get into your cells, and keep your organs, nerves, digestive system, and muscles functioning properly. Having a consistent source of water and electrolytes can assist in all these processes. Ultimately, proper hydration can boost your mood and energy, and lead to some of celery juices famed benefits such as clearer skin, less inflammation, and better gastrointestinal function.

Now, let’s look into some of the larger claims you may have seen online. For example, can celery cure cancer?

There are a few exciting phytochemicals that are found in celery, among many other fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are compounds made in plants that can exert an effect on biological processes. One phytochemical, called apigenin has been researched for its anticancer, neuron protecting ability, and positive effects on blood lipids and glucose. In mice studies, apigenin has demonstrated an ability to inhibit the growth and spread of cancerous tumors. This effect is thought to work by causing or promoting programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells, which may not respond to typical apoptosis signals. It may  slow the spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to move throughout the body, and invade and live in new parts of the body. In a petri dish, it’s also shown the ability to prevent tumors from forming connections to arteries, a process that cancer cells use to increase their blood supply which increases their growth and survival . Celery also contains the phytochemical luteolin, which may decrease the invasiveness of cancer cells in several different ways, similar to apigenin’s ability.

Hypertension? Diabetes?

While celery juice can be very hydrating, two cups of celery juice contain 430 mgs of sodium. For those who are concerned about their blood pressure, or on a sodium restricted diet, this may seem like a high amount. However, the potassium content in two cups is 1340 mgs, which is over half of most people’s daily goal and gives the drink a 3:1 potassium-sodium ratio. This puts celery juice in direct contrast to the typical high sodium, low potassium foods that are normal to western diets. This is important, as research has shown that a lack of potassium can cause sodium retention in your body, independent of how much sodium you eat. In contrast, high potassium consumption can lessen sodium sensitivity, which is an increase in blood pressure when sodium is eaten. Additionally, one meta-analysis found potassium supplementation lowered systolic pressure by an average of 4.4 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 2.5 mm Hg in participants with high blood pressure.

Increasing potassium intake may improve glucose tolerance because too little potassium stops insulin from being released from the pancreas. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter many of our cells, so it builds up in our blood steam, a hallmark symptom of type 2 diabetes. Insulin also triggers nitric oxide release, which lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. Thus, the high potassium content of celery juice alone may have positive effects on hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease risk.

The phytochemical superstar, luteolin, may further support celery juice’s positive role in diabetes. Luteolin acts as an antioxidant, which means it can neutralize free radicals in our body. Free radicals are dangerous because they can interfere with our normal body processes and damage cells.  Our body is thought to be experiencing oxidative stress when there aren’t enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals. This is important because oxidative damage is closely related to the development of diabetes in the body. Additionally, luteolin may be able to increase insulin’s ability to shuttle glucose into fat cells, a normal and healthy process which can help lower blood sugar levels.

While these studies are promising and exciting, it is important to remember that the diseases talked about above are extremely complex in the human body, while most of the studies talked about have taken place in a petri dish or in lab animals. Additionally, the amount of these phytochemicals found in the foods we eat may be much smaller than the amount used in lab experiments, which is why it takes a multitude of interventions and healthy habits to see significant improvement, not just one magic-bullet. For example, in a recent analysis, only a small protective relationship between apigenin consumption and decreased cancer risk found, but overall diets rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables have a much larger impact on all-cause mortality risk.

All in all, celery juice can be a great way to boost your morning routine by adding in some necessary water, electrolytes, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Since it is low in sugar and contains fiber, which can help steady uncontrolled blood sugar, it is a great replacement for other drinks that may have high amounts of sugar and little fiber, which can lead to blood sugar highs and crashes. However, celery juice can taste pretty strong, so feel free to add in some extra flavor that will further boost nutritional value like cilantro, mint, basil, carrot, lemon, and lime. Your taste buds will thank you! Take home message: celery is not a miracle cure but can be a healthy part of a diet pattern, which has in fact been associated with less risk of cancer, hypertension, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

Celery Juice Recipe for Blenders:

  • Thoroughly rinse 5 stalks of celery
  •  Slice into 1 inch pieces
  • Add the celery to a blender with 1 ½ cups of water
  • Add a lime or lemon with the skins removed, a small amount of ginger, a few springs of basil, mint, or cilantro (optional)
  • Blend thoroughly
  • Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine mesh strainer

Photo credit: https://www.goodnature.com/recipes/celery-juice-benefits-recipe-profitability/

References

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