Can drinking this bright green juice really give your body a healthy boost? Here’s the science behind the popular trend.
Perhaps you’ve seen #celeryjuice across Instagram.
Or maybe you heard about the #CeleryJuiceChallenge started by New York Times best-selling author Anthony William, who challenged people to drink celery juice daily for a week in December.
It seems the bright green juice is grabbing attention online and off, but is it really healthy or just a hype?
“It is true that there is supportive research on the phytochemicals in celery helping to reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and fight against oxidative stress. These same nutrients are found in whole celery as well as celery juice,” Erin Palinski-Wade, registered dietitian and author of “2 Day Diabetes Diet,” told Healthline.
However, she says claims that celery can fight infections and disease, such as Epstein-Barr virus, aren’t backed by scientific research or evidence, and are mostly anecdotal based on personal experiences shared online.
Celebrity chef and New York Times best-selling author Devin Alexander agrees.
“It is a trend, and it’s healthy, but it’s not a miracle cure and there is no scientific fact that it is overall better than juicing other vegetables,” Alexander told Healthline.
Alexander also says that people claiming to have lost 20 pounds or having gained clearer skin just from swapping other juice drinks for celery juice should consider what they were drinking and eating before they swapped.
“If a person was drinking 16 ounces of apple juice or a smoothie with high-sugar fruits like bananas or mangos — even if it also had some spinach in it — they would almost definitely see a drop in weight, but that’s mostly because celery juice would have so much less sugar and so many fewer calories,” Alexander said. “And if you were drinking a ‘healthy’ smoothie, most of which have too much sugar, switching to celery juice could also curb your cravings, especially if you’re insulin resistant.”
Celery juice contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, electrolytes, water and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
“It also contains health-boosting flavonoids and other phytochemicals, although some of them will be lost when fiber is removed during juicing,” JJ Virgin, celebrity nutrition and fitness expert, and author of “The Virgin Diet,” told Healthline.
When the fiber is removed, Virgin says that can trigger a more rapid blood sugar response.
“Not to mention that you’ll be missing out on all the other health benefits of fiber,” she added. “Many foods contain nutrients in the peel, pulp, and other components that are lost when they’re converted to juice form.”
She says fiber in your diet not only keeps your digestive system functioning smoothly, but can also help with:
- feeling full
- sparking weight loss
- balancing your blood sugar levels
- maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
- feeding the good bacteria in your gut and boosting your immune system
- helping reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
She adds that even though the micronutrients in juice are highly concentrated, the sugars in juice are highly concentrated as well.
Other cons of juicing include the time it takes to juice a vegetable like celery. Plus, all the experts point out that when you eat a food rather than drink it, you feel fuller.
“For many, too, chewing is just plain more satisfying,” Alexander said.
Palinski-Wade pointed out that juice can feel more convenient, especially if you make it ahead of time or buy it already made.
She also said, “You can consume a larger portion faster with less volume, making it easier to eat more of a certain food… therefore allowing you to take in a higher level of vitamins and minerals.”
Virgin pointed out that since vegetables and fruits are broken down during juicing, they can be easier to digest.
And Alexander said if you drink celery juice or other pure vegetable juices in place of a drink or other foods that contain more calories, you could lose weight.
Additionally, since celery has electrolytes, eating or drinking it could keep you hydrated.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking celery juice if you enjoy it, said Palinski-Wade.
“However, the nutritional properties of the juice are not unique and the same benefits can be found from eating celery along with other leafy green vegetables,” she said. “If you enjoy the trend, feel free to stick with it. But otherwise, just aim to add more greens in any form to your plate.”
Virgin concurs, but says any type of juicing means pulling out the sugars and losing the fiber from the food you’re juicing, which isn’t healthy for blood sugar balance, sustained energy, or healthy weight maintenance.
However, before you start to juice, Alexander recommended talking to your doctor first.
“Just because someone has a million followers [on social media] doesn’t mean that they have any knowledge at all,” said Alexander. “If you’re taking medications, be sure that you’re not juicing a fruit or vegetable that could interfere with the medicine. Grapefruit juice is known to dull some medications and celery juice can also do that.”
Research shows that phytochemicals in celery can help reduce blood pressure and inflammation, as well as fight against oxidative stress. You can reap these benefits from celery whether you eat it whole or juice it.
However, when celery is juiced, the fiber is removed, and fiber provides a wealth of benefits, including sparking weight loss, helping to balance blood sugar levels, and more.
Cathy Cassata is a freelance writer who specializes in stories around health, mental health, and human behavior. She has a knack for writing with emotion and connecting with readers in an insightful and engaging way. Read more of her work here.