Whether you want to feel healthier or lose weight, eating more fruits and vegetables can help. But what about drinking it?
Advocates like the self-proclaimed William “Medical Medium” Anthony (who's not a doctor) claim that drinking celery juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach can cure all sorts of chronic diseases—but what does the science say?
“Celery and the juice coming from it have benefits, but to identify celery juice as a miracle food may be far-fetched,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, manager of Wellness Nutrition Services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
What is celery juice?
Celery juice is exactly what it sounds like: Raw celery stalks that are pressed and juiced. Because the pulp is extracted, the consistency is like that of any fruit or vegetable juice, but the flavor of can be somewhat bitter and earthy to palates that aren’t accustomed to it.
Benefits of celery juice: Fact or fiction?
Typically grown throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, celery has been widely studied for its antioxidants, which include flavonoids, and vitamins A and C. While more research is needed on the impact among human subjects, there’s evidence that celery contains antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, an ability to reduce glucose and blood pressure, calm skin issues like psoriasis, and improve fertility in rats, according to a 2017 review of nine strong studies published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
That said, when it comes consuming celery juice for relief from chronic ailments, the data remains mostly inconclusive: While the celery juice fad calls for drinking a full 16-ounce glass of juiced celery every morning, most of the studies around the benefits of the vegetable focus on the whole plant, not just its juce, Kirkpatrick says.
Claim 1: It reduces blood pressure.
Along with garlic and ginseng, celery may help prevent hypertension, according to a 2019 review of existing research published in the journal Endocrine, Metabolic and Immune Disorders - Drug Targets. But researchers stress that because many of the studies in the review lacked standardization (i.e: they looked at different types of extracts in different preparations), much more research needs to be done before anything definitive can be said around the effects of celery—let alone celery juice—on blood pressure.
Claim 2: It reduces inflammation.
Because it’s an important source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, celery may help ease inflammation, according to a 2019 review published in the journal Phytotherapy Research. But there’s an important caveat, Kirkpatrick says: All plants have anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, meaning you don’t have to focus on celery to reduce inflammation. Also of note: The review focused on the raw veggie specifically, not the juice extracted from it.
Claim 3: It lowers blood sugar.
When administered to a very small group of elderly pre-diabetic patients, celery leaf extract was shown to lower blood glucose levels, according to a 2018 study published in the Suadi Medical Journal. Researchers theorized that celery may affect the intestine’s absorption of glucose but cautioned that the small scope of the study made it a weak example of celery’s true benefits. Another small study from 2016 found that celery seed extract also seems to have a positive effect on blood sugar—but only in rats. And remember: We’re talking about celery extract—not juice.
Celery is a low-carb food, and because low-carb diets have been shown to help with blood sugar regulation, the actual vegetable could be a helpful diet addition for those looking to get their glucose in check, Kirkpatrick says. However she cautions that, again, no studies connect celery juice to similar effects.
Claim 4: It promotes fertility.
One of the wilder claims around celery juice is that it can help improve fertility, but so far, actual studies are lacking. While certain compounds in celery may help protect against damages to the testicular structure, according to a 2017 review, there’s no evidence that celery juice itself actually improves fertility in men or women.
Claim 5: It relieves skin issues.
Drinking celery juice provides your body with a dose of vitamin C, says Ginger Hultin, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Because vitamin C has been linked to skin benefits like improved collagen function (i.e elasticity), you could call celery juice “skin friendly,” but when it comes to its ability to treat topical skin issues like psoriasis and eczema, both the National Psoriasis Foundation, and the National Eczema Association warn against using it as a remedy.
Celery juice and weight loss
What about those claims that celery juice can help you lose weight and “detox,” i.e., get rid of all the bad stuff in your body?
Raw celery is rich in water, low in calories, and full of fiber. When you juice it, though, you lose the fiber. It’s why “the biggest benefit you can expect from drinking celery juice will be an improvement to your hydration,” says registered dietitian Alexia Lewis, RD, a certified health coach with the American Council on Exercise.
Compared to many other fruit or vegetable juices, celery juice is fairly lower in calories, but there’s no other magic “diet” component to it, says Rachel E. Scherr, PhD and Assistant Research Scientist and Director of the Center for Nutrition in Schools at the University of California.
Having a glass of celery juice is much better than having a glass of high-sugar juice or soda Kirkpatrick says, but because there’s no actual data linking celery juice to weight loss, she cautions against using it as a method to shed pounds.
What’s more: Assuming you have a functioning liver, which is designed to process and filter toxic substances like alcohol or the byproducts of medications, drinking celery juice to help your body detox is unnecessary, according to Adrien Paczosa, RD, a media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The liver doesn’t need a fad or trends to work well,” Paczosa says.
Side effects of celery juice
Thinking of giving celery juice a whirl? Start by talking to your doctor, suggests Dr. Marvin Singh, a San Diego, Californian-based integrative gastroenterologist, the founder of the Encinitas, California-based Precisione Clinic, and a member of the American Board of Integrative Medicine. After all, celery juice contains furanocoumarins, organic compounds also found in grapefruit that can affect the way certain medications—like statins, blood pressure medications, sedatives, and others—are metabolized, Dr. Singh says.
Also worth noting: Celery seed in particular has various side effects; in concentrated forms, it is used as a diuretic, to treat arthritis and gout, to reduce inflammation, and to lower blood pressure. What’s more, celery allergies aren’t uncommon. These usually present as swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat or, less commonly, as severe skin or respiratory symptoms.
Although more research is needed on celery juice and optimal dosing, less is always best if you have concerns.
Celery juice recipe: juiced vs. blended
You can drink celery in two ways:
- Juicing: This approach tends to filter out the pulp, or natural fiber that fills you up and helps protect you from chronic diseases. When using a juicer, Lewis recommends mixing the pulp back into your drink to replace lost fiber.
- Blending: Blending your celery keeps the fiber intact so you don’t have to stir it back in.
Tip: Add a layer of flavor to your celery juice or smoothie with ginger, Lewis says. You can also give your celery drink a Mexican flair by blending up some avocado and lime along with the raw stalks.
Looking for a more classic flavor profile? Blend a combination of cucumbers, lemon, ginger, and an apple along with your celery, suggests registered dietitian Leslie Fink, WW’s recipe editor and nutritionist.
The upshot: Is celery juice good for you?
Eating whole fruits and vegetables is the best way to go, advises Scherr. And as for the benefits of celery juice? “They’re just too good to be true,” she says.
While celery juice contains a healthy serving of vitamins and antioxidants, it’s not a cure-all, Paczosa agrees. That said, science does maintain that a diet full of fresh, varied fruits and vegetables can help you stay happy and healthy—so stock up on that produce!
Jessica DiGiacinto is an associate editor at WW. A health and wellness writer and editor based out of New York, she’s contributed to Popsugar, Bulletproof 360, and Galvanized Media, among other media outlets.