Celery has received a lot of attention as a 'superfood,' with supporters claiming that celery juice helps combat a range of ailments, including inflammation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Celery is a member of the carrot family. The plant and its seeds provide an abundant source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But is celery juice a 'superfood' and what health benefits does it have?
In this article, we look at what the science says about celery juice, and what people need to know before they drink it.
This article outlines the evidence behind the superfood claims of celery juice and explores the benefits it may have for our health.
Celery contains high levels of vitamin K and good amounts of vitamin A, vitamins B-2 and B-6, and vitamin C. Celery is also a good source of the following nutrients:
The celery plant and its seeds both contain chemicals that nutritionists call phytonutrients. These chemicals have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Celery is also low in calories and sugar, making it a popular choice for a quick and healthful snack.
Despite recent claims, few studies have investigated whether drinking celery juice improves people's health. Instead, most research has examined the health benefits that experts associate with consuming specific nutrients that celery and its seeds contain.
Research shows that apigenin and luteolin reduce inflammation and may help treat a range of inflammatory diseases.
The apigenin and luteolin in celery may also ease the following conditions:
Inflammation and allergies
A 2017 study investigated whether luteolin could reduce inflammation and lower allergic responses in mice with these conditions.
Results showed that giving the mice luteolin 30 minutes before exposing them to an allergen significantly reduced the levels of inflammation within their lungs and nasal passages.
However, scientists still need to do further studies to confirm whether luteolin has similar anti-allergy effects in humans.
A 2017 study investigated whether apigenin could suppress arthritis in mice. The investigators first treated the mice with apigenin. Afterward, the animals showed less tissue inflammation and delayed onset and severity of arthritis in comparison with mice that did not receive treatment.
The researchers concluded that apigenin works by suppressing the immune system. It does this by interrupting the transportation and signaling capabilities of cells that trigger inflammation.
Luteolin and apigenin may also offer protection against certain brain diseases.
A 2013 study investigated whether luteolin could reduce inflammation and protect against neurodegeneration in rodents with diabetic encephalopathy (DE). DE refers to brain abnormalities and impaired cognitive function that may affect people with type 2 diabetes.
In the study, rats that the investigators continuously treated with luteolin had reduced brain cell damage and improved learning and memory.
A separate 2015 review looked at the effect of different plant chemicals on rodents with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers found that apigenin limits damage to a variety of brain processes, thereby delaying and slowing the progression of Alzheimer's.
Luteolin may also prevent cancer cells from invading other areas of the body, or 'metastasizing.' Scientists think that it may do this is by preventing new blood vessels from growing around existing tumors.
Furthermore, studies on animals suggest that luteolin could enhance the potency of chemotherapy drugs that act on cancer cells while reducing the toxic effects of these drugs on the body.
The researchers fed rats celery leaf extract for 30 days after which the animals showed a significant decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or 'bad' cholesterol when the study compared them with rats that did not receive the extract.
A later study, again using animal models, suggested that the antioxidants in celery may be responsible for lowering cholesterol levels by preventing stores of cholesterol from breaking down and entering the blood.
High blood pressure
Some foods contain chemicals known as antihypertensives, which help to lower blood pressure.
A 2013 study investigated whether the chemical 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB) in celery seed extract has antihypertensive properties.
Thirty participants with high blood pressure took part in the trial. Each consumed a capsule containing 75 milligrams (mg) of celery seed extract, twice a day for 6 weeks.
After this time, the participants showed a significant decrease in blood pressure.
According to the researchers, 3nB may lower blood pressure by reducing the buildup of fatty deposits within the arteries and increasing the elasticity of artery walls.
The term cardiovascular remodeling (CR) refers to changes in the shape, size, structure, and function of the heart, usually as a result of chronic high blood pressure or heart disease.
CR is a compensatory mechanism that allows a strained or damaged heart to pump blood around the body.
Over time, however, CR reduces the efficiency of the heart muscle and increases the risk of heart failure. Chemicals called free radicals can contribute to this process.
A 2015 animal study that gave rats luteolin found that they showed less CR than those that did not receive the supplement. Scientists think this might be because luteolin's antioxidant properties disable free radicals and limit heart damage.
A 2016 review investigated the effects of celery on fertility in animals.
Of the 16 papers the study reviewed, 13 reported that celery has a protective effect on fertility, while the remaining three found that celery reduces fertility.
The review concluded that celery could have protective effects against substances that can damage sperm production in males.
However, celery contains chemicals, such as apigenin, which may lower fertility when people consume it in high doses.
Celery and celery juice may have some side effects, and they may not be suitable for everyone.
Celery contains the chemical psoralen, which reacts to sunlight. Eating celery and other foods high in psoralen may increase the skin's sensitivity to ultraviolet light, increasing the risk of dermatitis, sun damage, and photoaging.
For people who are particularly sensitive to psoralen, simply touching psoralen-rich foods can cause skin irritation.
A food allergen
Some people may have an allergy to celery, which can cause a range of symptoms, including skin reactions, digestive upset, and respiratory problems.
In rare cases, a person with celery allergy may experience the potentially deadly allergic reaction anaphylaxis.
Anyone who experiences any of the following symptoms of anaphylaxis should seek urgent medical treatment:
- difficulty breathing
- hives or swelling
- tightness within the throat
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- abdominal pain
- rapid heartbeat
- low blood pressure
- dizziness or fainting
- feeling of doom
- cardiac arrest
Celery contains about 30 milligrams (mg) of sodium per 1 medium (40 g) stalk.
Eating celery each day should not cause problems for most people.
You will need approximately two bunches of celery to make the following recipe for celery juice, using a juicer:
- cut the base and ends off the celery
- rinse the celery in a colander
- feed the celery through the juicer
- serve the juice immediately
- store any leftover juice in a sealed jar in the fridge
If making celery juice in a blender, chop the celery into 1-inch pieces, and add one-half of a cup of water or fresh fruit juice to the blender. Blend for a minute before straining the juice through a sieve.
Ready-made celery juice is also available to buy online and in health food stores.
Few studies have investigated the health effects of celery juice. However, celery does contain many essential nutrients that scientists believe are beneficial for people's health.
Most research has concentrated on investigating the effects of some of the nutrients and antioxidants that the plant and its seeds contain. Scientists believe that these chemicals are beneficial in treating several health conditions.
People who are allergic or sensitive to celery should avoid eating this plant. Those who are trying to reduce their sodium consumption should be mindful of total intake for the day from all foods, including celery. However, eating celery should not cause problems for most people.
Celery juice is available to purchase in health food stores or online.