At the center of the Venn diagram of whacky health trends that Busy Philipps tries and green juices that Hannah Bronfman drinks, you'll find celery juice. "Been loving the celery juice kick but start slow if you’re thinking about it because this stuff is strong," Bronfman posted on Instagram last month. And back in February, Philipps was on a similar celery juice journey after her friend recommended it to her. "Apparently it’s supposed to do all of these wonderful things for you, and something with Gwyneth Paltrow, and I don’t know but I’m on board," she said in her Instagram story.
At first glance, celery doesn't seem like the most delicious or nutrient-rich vegetable around. Celery doesn't really have a taste, and it's made up of mostly water. But believe it or not "that little, simple-looking stalk has so much to it," says Liz Cruz, MD, a gastroenterologist in Phoenix. Namely, celery contains lots of antioxidants, a few helpful vitamins (like A, C, B, K, and folate), minerals, and a decent amount of fiber, she says.
Besides these nutrients, most people drink celery juice because they believe it will help with digestion, and there is some truth to that. "There's a chemical in celery that's just helpful in protecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, so that helps prevent ulcers and inflammation," she says. "From the digestive standpoint, that's one of the big things." Dr. Cruz says she often tells patients to eat celery for this reason.
Even people who don't have any gastrointestinal issues drink celery juice because they believe it will help reduce bloating. (For what it's worth, bloating is not always indicative of a health concern, but some people find it uncomfortable and seek out relief.) Technically, celery can act as a diuretic, Dr. Cruz says. This is because celery has a high water content, and it contains a phytonutrient called phthalides, which can increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Celery also contains two important electrolytes, potassium and sodium, she says. We know that vegetables high in potassium can help offset some of the effects of excess sodium, so celery does double-duty when it comes to de-bloating.
The thing is, while it seems like there's a great benefit to eating celery, celery juice is not a miracle elixir. Juicing celery or blending it into a smoothie makes it easier to consume large amounts of the veggie, but there's nothing magical about celery juice in and of itself. It's important to remember that many studies on celery have been done on rats and mice in a laboratory setting, Dr. Cruz says. "As is with a lot of nutritional type medicine, sometimes studies haven't been done in humans," she says. "There's got to be some caution taken with stuff you read about." For example, we don't totally know what the long-term benefits of drinking excessive amounts of celery would be in humans.
So, if you're down with whatever Busy Philipps and Hannah Bronfman are sipping on, or you simply like the bitter taste of celery, then do you — just don't expect a green juice to fix your whole life.