Celery Juice: Potential Side Effects and Health Benefits

The claims that celery juice is a cure-all drink are not backed by science. Here's what you need to know about celery nutrition, including health benefits and potential side effects.

celery juice in sparkling glass on green background with stalk of celery in cup

Celery juice started trending in 2019, and at one point, more people were Googling celery juice than the Mediterranean diet. Anthony Williams, aka "The Medical Medium," calls himself the originator of the celery juice movement. And he may well be, but his "credentials" are that he can talk to spirits—not that he went to medical school or studied nutrition—and he recommends drinking pure celery juice on an empty stomach. He claims it's a miracle juice that can heal chronic illnesses and improve digestion.

Here, we myth-bust the celery juice claims and tell you what you really need to know about celery juice.

Celery Juice Nutrition

Celery is an often-overlooked crunchy vegetable that happens to be delicious topped with peanut butter. And since it's a vegetable, yes, celery is good for you.

According to the USDA, 1 cup of chopped celery has:

  • 14 calories
  • 1 gram protein
  • 2 g fiber
  • 80 milligrams sodium
  • 40 mg calcium (about 3% of your daily value)
  • 263 mg potassium (about 6% of your daily value)
  • 3 mg vitamin C (about 3% of your daily value)
  • 453 IU vitamin A
  • 30 micrograms vitamin K (about 25% of your daily value)

Celery is very low in calories and doesn't have a mega amount of any one nutrient.

Celery has been studied and does have health-promoting antioxidants (side note: all vegetables have antioxidants). According to a 2017 review in Clinical Reviews in Biotechnology, celery has been shown to have certain medicinal properties, including as an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, as well as lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Juicing vs. Eating Celery

One cup of celery juice made with half a bunch of medium stalks (4 to 5) will be higher in nutrients than 1 cup of chopped celery since more celery is used to make the juice (although some vitamins, like vitamin C, will diminish a little with heat and oxygen exposure from blending or being put through a juicer). The juice, however, won't deliver the same amount of fiber since that will be left in the pulp—and fiber is a key nutrient that most of us don't get enough of.

For the most part, eating your calories is more satisfying than drinking them. And while some people hype celery juice for being hydrating and "mostly water," the best hydrating drink is water. It's 100% water and very hydrating. Plus it's free and doesn't take any time to make.

Celery Juice Side Effects

Rachele Pojednic, Ph.D., assistant professor and program director of exercise science at Norwich University and a research associate at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said it best with this Instagram post debunking the myths, "IT'S JUST JUICE."

And while Pojednic and other scientists acknowledge that celery has beneficial compounds, we don't know what the optimal dose is for humans. As Pojednic explains, "When you juice a ton of celery, it concentrates all of these chemicals. While that might sound great in theory, we don't know what an optimal dose of these concentrated phytochemicals is because studies haven't been done in humans (almost all studies are in cells and rats). And we know there are toxicants in celery—furanocoumarins and psoralens—which can cause skin issues and may result in liver damage from breakdown intermediates during metabolism (mechanism unknown). Yep, even celery can be too much of a good thing."

Celery juice may also interact with certain medications like blood thinners because of its vitamin K content, so talk to your doctor if you are going to start drinking celery juice regularly.

Celery is also on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Dirty Dozen list of most-contaminated produce when it comes to pesticide residue. The experts at EWG recommend buying organic celery when possible to reduce your pesticide exposure. And whether you buy organic or not, always wash your celery well to remove as many contaminants as possible.

What About Those Celery Juice Testimonials?

While there are lots of testimonials regarding celery juice out there—many from celebrities—it's unknown what other lifestyle and dietary changes they might have made. In other words, it's impossible to know if it was strictly the celery juice that was creating the changes they're claiming or if it was a combination of that along with other lifestyle factors.

And then there's the placebo effect. If people have bought into celery juice as being a miracle cure-all drink, they are much more likely to report feeling benefits, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

We wonder—if people just started their day with 2 cups of plain water before they ate breakfast, would they see similar results?

The Bottom Line

Like any other food, celery juice isn't a miracle cure-all drink—so be wary of "gurus" who tell you otherwise. If you want to add celery juice to your diet, limit it to about a cup a day. Either way, drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you're looking for a quick and easy antioxidant-loaded drink, add tea to your beverage lineup. And eat more whole foods—fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins and fats—for a well-rounded diet that will give you all the nutrients you need for good health.

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