Celery, the trendy vegetable of the moment, is being extolled as the answer to everything from controlling your cholesterol to paying your taxes. Celery’s rise from its humble past as a mere garnish on your Sunday bloody mary to the king of the hill has been rapid. This is due, in part, to Anthony William’s book, Medical Medium, in which he claims that a glass of celery juice every morning will make you über-healthy. He is not totally wrong: For some people it will make a positive change, but for others, not so much. I am not here to push celery off its pedestal, but rather to bring some much-needed rationale to celery fever.
I am a lover of celery and drink a big glass of celery juice (with some other greens thrown in) every morning. It also makes a crisp, hydrating snack. I frequently suggest celery with almond butter or with hummus to people looking to control calories and to bring more fiber into their diets. I also use it as one of the many vegetables in bone and vegetable broths. As a part of a healthy diet, celery is generally beneficial, but it is certainly not the be-all and end-all of things nutritious.
Celery is not good for everyone in large amounts. Though it has many virtues—high in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorus—it is also abundant in sodium and fiber. Eaten in high quantities, celery can be troublesome. For people who suffer from Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), more than one stalk of celery can cause major stomach upset. This is because, although celery has both soluble and insoluble fiber, it has a higher concentration of the latter. In any amount, insoluble fiber makes people with SIBO feel bloated and uncomfortable. The same fate can befall anyone who eats insoluble fiber in large amounts—this is particularly true for people with intestinal inflammation. Too much insoluble fiber intake can cause bloating, gas and general pain in your digestive tract.
Another area of concern about celery is its ability to lower blood pressure. This seems contraindicatory, because of the high amount of sodium in celery, but it has been proven that celery consumption reduces blood pressure. While that is positive for some people, for those who have low blood pressure already, eating large quantities of celery could cause their blood pressure to drop too low.
Encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables is a big part of what I do every day. However, I do think we should pop a hole in this celery mania. Along with a wide variety of other fruits and vegetables like berries, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, celery can be part of a healthy diet. Celery’s virtues certainly outweigh its faults but, just like everything, it should be eaten in moderation. Celery is a vegetable worthy of a place at the table—just maybe not the centerpiece. Tapp Franke, a holistic nutritionist, is the founder of STANDwellness; standwellness.com