Celery has long been touted as a low-calorie food that can help with weight loss. Some people claim that celery is a natural diuretic that can help the body flush out excess water and sodium. But is this true? Does celery really have significant diuretic effects? In this in-depth article, we’ll examine the evidence surrounding celery and its effects on urination, water retention, and more. We’ll also look at how much celery you would need to eat to see any diuretic benefit. Read on to learn the facts about celery’s effects on the body.
What is a Diuretic?
Before examining celery’s diuretic effects, let’s start with a quick overview of what diuretics are and how they work. Diuretics are substances that increase urine output and the excretion of water from the body. They do this by inhibiting kidney function and limiting the body’s ability to reabsorb water.
Some common types of diuretics include:
– Loop diuretics: These work by preventing the kidneys from reabsorbing sodium, chloride, and potassium ions. This causes increased urination. Lasix (furosemide) is a commonly prescribed loop diuretic.
– Thiazide diuretics: These prevent reabsorption of sodium in the kidneys, leading to increased urine production. Chlorthalidone and hydrochlorothiazide are examples.
– Potassium-sparing diuretics: As the name suggests, these do not deplete potassium from the body like other diuretics. Spironolactone is one such example.
By promoting the loss of water and salts from the body, diuretics can be helpful for treating conditions like high blood pressure, edema (swelling), heart failure, and liver cirrhosis. However, they can sometimes lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Does Celery Have Natural Diuretic Effects?
Celery is commonly touted as a food that acts as a natural diuretic. Is there any truth to this claim? Let’s look at the evidence:
– Celery is very low in calories and high in water content – about 95% by weight. Eating foods high in water content like celery can help increase urine output.
– Celery contains the phytochemical phthalides, which may help relax the tissues of the kidneys and increase urine production. However, research specifically on phthalides for diuretic effects is limited.
– Apigenin is another compound found in celery that may act as a mild diuretic due to effects on kidney function. But again, human research is lacking.
– Celery seeds and celery seed extract have traditionally been used as diuretics in folk medicine. According to some animal studies, components in celery seed may increase urination.
– Anecdotal evidence from people who consume celery, especially in juice form, do report increased urine output.
So in summary – celery may have mild diuretic effects due to its water content and certain phytochemicals. However, human clinical research is still limited and many claims are based on animal studies and anecdotal reports. The diuretic effects appear modest compared to prescription diuretic medications.
How Much Celery is Needed to See Diuretic Effects?
Given that studies show celery may have mild diuretic effects, how much would someone need to eat to see any results?
There are no established guidelines on exact amounts needed. However, some health sites suggest:
– Eating 2-3 celery stalks daily: At around 10-15 calories per stalk, this is a very low-calorie way to potentially increase diuresis. Juicing the celery may offer stronger effects.
– Taking celery seed extract supplements: Capsules with 450-550mg celery seed extract taken 1-3 times per day. This distills and concentrates the active compounds.
– Using celery seeds: Add 1 teaspoon per day to food or drink. Can be used in cooking, juices, smoothies, etc.
– Drinking celery tea: Steep 2 teaspoons of crushed celery seeds in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Drink 1-2 cups per day.
When eating celery stalks, aim for around 100-250g per day to potentially see diuretic benefits. This would equal about 2-4 average sized celery stalks. Juicing may provide stronger effects due to higher phytochemical concentrations.
What Does the Research Say?
While celery has traditional and anecdotal use as a diuretic, what does the clinical research have to say? Unfortunately, there have not been many human studies specifically looking at celery and diuresis. But a few studies provide some insights:
– A 2005 study in rats tested an extract from celery leaves. It was found to significantly increase urine output over 24 hours compared to a control group.1
– A small 2009 study in 6 human participants tested a combination supplement containing celery seed extract, juniper, parsley, and buchu. There was a significant increase in urine excretion compared to placebo over a 5 hour period.2
– A 2015 study had 20 people with mild hypertension drink celery juice for 1 week. There was a small but significant reduction in blood pressure at the end of the study. The researchers suggested increased urine sodium excretion may have played a role.3
– A 2019 literature review evaluated diuretic effects of various herb-based teas. The authors concluded that while celery seed tea has traditional diuretic uses, high quality clinical evidence is lacking.4
So in summary, the limited direct research on celery is positive but there is still minimal human data specifically on celery for diuresis. More rigorous clinical studies are needed.
Other Potential Effects of Celery on Health
In addition to possible mild diuretic qualities, celery may offer other benefits:
– Weight loss: With low calories and high water content, celery can be a healthy addition to a weight loss diet. The increased chewing can also increase satiety.
– Blood pressure: Animal studies show celery seed extracts may reduce hypertension. The nitrate content may also promote vasodilation.
– Inflammation: Compounds like polyacetylenes and flavonoids in celery may help reduce inflammation.
– Cholesterol: Animal research found celery extract lowered LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The phytosterols may improve lipid profiles.
– Anti-cancer effects: Test tube studies show apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects of celery extracts on several cancer cell lines such as breast, liver, and pancreatic.
However, human studies are still limited and larger