Celery juice lowers blood pressure

October 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition


As someone who much prefers juicing vegetables to actually eating them, I am always on the lookout for news of a new benefit, and here is one for you.

If you want to lower your blood pressure then get some organic celery and put the juicer on standby. Celery is very high in potassium and magnesium as well as containing 3-n-butyl-phthalide, a compound that relaxes the smooth muscle cells in the arterial walls. This allows the arteries to dilate and lowers blood pressure.

The recommended ‘dose’ is to juice one head of celery a day for about a month and test your blood pressure at the start and end. Oh, and as celery on its own can be bitter, I would split the head and juice each one for morning and evening drinking. I would also add an apple and carrot to the mix for some sweetness and flavour – and you get more vitamins as well!

If you don’t have a juicer, then look for cartons of Low-Sodium V8 Juice as it has a high dose of potassium to help keep blood pressure in check and it is an effective blood thinner, which further contributes to its antihypertensive effects. Must be the low-sodium version though, not the regular one, and you would drink about 12 ounces a day.

Cancer risk and stress

November 17, 2008 by  
Filed under featured, Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

The International Journal of Oncology has been looking at whether the stress in your life can cause you to develop cancer, and the answer lies in your diet. Particularly in vegetables such as that Christmas favourite, the brussel sprout.

These are very stressful times, so anything we can do to help our bodies deal with it will also help us avoid diseases like cancer. We know that stress impacts our immune systems and ability to fight off invading organisms so that we become more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases and illnesses. This current study goes a long way toward documenting the link between stress and cancer and stressing the importance of our own role in preventing illness.

Chronic high levels of stress result in chronic high levels of norepinephrine and adrenaline. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is similar to adrenaline and these hormones act together to produce increased heart rate and blood pressure – the precursor to our ‘fight or flight’ mode. So how do you inhibit the production of norepinephrine in this stress-filled times? You increase the amount of sulforaphane in your diet. This is a compound that you get from eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, turnip, radish, rocket, and watercress.

Sulforaphane has potent anticancer activity that triggers the production of enzymes that help detoxify cancer-causing chemicals and is particularly abundant in broccoli sprouts. A concentrated extract from broccoli sprouts may cut the development of bladder cancer by more than 50% and researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that eating just one ounce of broccoli sprouts provides as much sulforaphane as more than a pound of cooked broccoli. The have devised a product, called Brocco Sprouts, that is on sale in supermarkets in the USA but in the UK your choice is a bit more limited.

The healthiest option is to grow your own sprouting seeds and you can get broccoli sprouts from here www.nickys-nursery.co.uk and apparently they are good in sandwiches, mild rather like alfalfa. Personally, as a total non-broccoli fan I get my cruciferous boost by juicing with the addition of a sweet apple and carrot which is the only way I can deal with them!

If eating healthy amounts of cruciferous vegetables does not appeal to you, try adding broccoli sprouts to a sandwich or salad. Broccoli sprouts don’t have to be eaten daily to provide their full effect. A one ounce serving is good for three days worth of full spectrum antioxidant protection from sulforaphane comparable to the best antioxidant supplements on the market. A box of sprouts contains four of these servings and retails for about 4 dollars.

Juicing is another good way to consume cruciferous vegetables, particularly if you have digestive difficulties. You can add cruciferous vegetables to your vegetable juice recipes. One large stalk of broccoli makes only about an inch of power packed juice in a glass, so it doesn’t have a huge impact on the taste of the recipe.

Supplements of broccoli sprouts are available at health food stores and online health retailers such as Vitacost or Lucky Vitamin. The best known is called Broccoliv. Vitacost has a less costly house brand.

Celery and the brain

Researchers at the University of Illinois report that a plant compound found in abundance in celery and green peppers can disrupt a key component of the inflammatory response in the brain. This could be important news for the research on ageing, and on diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

Inflammation plays a key role in many neurodegenerative diseases and also is implicated in the memory and behaviour problems that can arise as we get older. Inflammation is not always a bad thing; it is a critical part of the body’s immune response that in normal circumstances reduces injury and promotes healing, but when it goes wrong then it can lead to serious physical and mental problems.

The new study looked at luteolin, a plant flavonoid in celery and green peppers which is known to impede the inflammatory response in several types of cells outside the central nervous system. Herbalists have known about the cooling properties of celery for decades and prescribe it for arthritis and hot flushes, but now it seems scientists are also taking it seriously. Add celery and green peppers to your diet and you will whizzing through the crossword in record time. If you don’t like the taste of them – and I know some people who don’t – then if you have a juicer add it to your mix. I juice celery regularly with apples and carrot to boost my immune system and help with arthritis and even celery-haters love the taste of the juice.

Vital Veg – The dynamic duo

August 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Natural Medicine, Wellness

Cabbage is not everyone’s favourite food – shades of school dinners and that terrible lingering smell as it boiled away all morning – and celery, too, can be an acquired taste you either love or loathe, but these two vegetables can immeasurably improve your health. Here are some of the really good reasons to include cabbage in your diet on a regular basis:

On a diet? An average portion is around 15 calories, so it can help you lose weight, while feeling full. It is also full of vitamin C which many believe helps your cells to burn fat.

It contains phytonutrients that help protect you from the free radicals (cancer causing agents) that can damage your cell walls.

Helps to clean and detox your liver of impurities by stimulating the production of the antioxidant glutathione.

The lactic acid in it can help disinfect your colon to inhibit growth of bacteria.

Promotes healthy, glowing skin because of the amounts of vitamin E it contains.

Keeps your eyes healthy with a good dose of vitamin A. All that applies to the white and green cabbage varieties, however if you add in some red cabbage you will be getting a bonus in the form of anthocyanin, an antioxidant which is responsible for its red colour. However it’s not there just to make it look good alongside your Lancashire hotpot, the traditional accompaniment to this winter dish. It has several vital roles to play in supporting your mental health as it helps protect your brain cells, and this is the reason many scientists now believe it could have a role in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Again, like it’s green cousins, it can also help if you are dieting as anthocyanins also have potential as ‘fat-fighters’, according to a Japanese study carried out in February 2008. They reported that the antioxidants in red cabbage could help tackle metabolic syndrome (MetS), which can cause obesity, hypertension, and insulin problems.

Enough about cabbage – what about celery? In my childhood it appeared in water in a cut glass jug to accompany Sunday tea and I avoided it like the plague. Now, I enjoy it on a daily basis – more later. So what is celery good for? Well more good news for dieters, as it can help suppress your appetite and that can help you slim. If you are an anxious type then celery can be useful as it has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Celery contains ‘pthalides’, compounds which can help relax your artery muscles, and have an effect on lowering your blood pressure – always a good idea if you are anxious, and those same compounds also reduce your levels of stress hormone, which help keep your blood vessels relaxed and open. It’s the leaves, rather than the stalks that contain the biggest concentration of the pthalides, so chop finely and add to salads, don’t just eat the crisp stem.


I promised an easy way to eat these two vital veg, and I will let you into a secret. I really don’t like eating vegetables at all. There are a favoured few, but mainly I count potatoes as my only ‘much-loved’ vegetable. But, I know how important it is to get those nutrients, so I juice my vegetables instead. The quickest way to get the benefits of cabbage is to drink 25-50 ml of fresh, raw cabbage juice each day. This is based on research done in the early 1950s by Dr Garnett Cheney who found that peptic ulcer patients who drank 4 glasses of raw cabbage juice daily quickened the healing process and relieved the pain. A quarter of an average cabbage will give you that amount, throw in some celery with the leaves and you have an amazing cocktail. If you want it a little sweeter pop in a carrot. You can juice pretty much anything and everything, and there are some great juice recipe books on the market – please try to use organic veg where possible and drink the juice the second you have made it – don’t let it stand or it will start to oxidise on contact with the air and it doesn’t look very pretty either. I start the day usually by juicing an apple, a carrot, couple sticks of celery, half a grapefruit and a piece of ginger. If you haven’t time for breakfast, then that will really set you up.

Juice benefits for Alzheimer’s

A recently concluded study which investigated Alzheimer’s disease in older Japanese populations living in Japan, Hawaii and Seattle, has found that people who drank fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week had a 76 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank juice less than once per week.

This ten-year study was based on the fact that there is a very low incidence rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the Japanese population in their native country, but when Japanese people in the USA were studied they were found to have almost the same incidence rates as Americans have. Obviously this indicates that environmental factors like diet and lifestyle are important contributors to disease risk, but that the benefit of drinking juice was most apparent in those people who carry the genetic marker linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of the disease, which typically occurs after the age of 65.

Further research is being done on exactly what types of juice that would bring most benefit but from a natural healing viewpoint the most likely would seem to be pomegranate, cherry, red grape juice, red wine and fresh juiced vegetables. The researchers say that their findings are not yet conclusive so cannot be guaranteed to prevent Alzheimer’s but common sense would indicate that freshly juiced fruit and vegetables have all their essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes and would certainly improve overall health generally if not Alzheimer’s specifically.

Smoothies go green

February 25, 2008 by  
Filed under At Home, Food & Nutrition, Health, Wellness

Breakfast is always a difficult meal for me as I don’t like cereals and am not mad about yoghurt or fruit or vegetables. It is a miracle I am as healthy as I am, and part of that miracle is that I take in my daily 5 in liquid form from my juicer or blender. Now in colder weather I am not so keen on chilled fruit smoothies, but I have found a way to have a healthy breakfast in minutes that gives me healthy carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll – sound dreadful but it can be made to taste great with the addition of fruit.

I also find as I have got older I need protein in a morning so I add a scoop of protein powder for a complete meal. If you want to get out the blender this recipe could help you be bright eyed and bushy tailed whatever time of day you drink it – in fact it is a great pick me up for that mid-afternoon slump too.

If you want to have a go, the rule of thumb when making green smoothies is to use slightly more vegetables than fruits, say about 60/40 in favour of the green stuff. What goes in it? Well good greens to use might be romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, and chard. For the sweetness you might add fruit peeled and chopped fruit such bananas, pears, apples, blueberries, mangos, papayas, and pineapples.

Put your favoured fruit and veg into a good blender and add just enough water to allow the blender to bring vegetables and fruits together into a smoothie-like consistency. Personally I don’t use water, but cranberry juice as its slight tartness seems to bring out the flavour and I don’t like my drinks too thick so I add a good glug – personal taste so experiment to see what you like.

If you feel you need some extra antioxidants in your diet then you could also add a teaspoon or so of acerola cherry powder and then just drink it down. Don’t let it stand as the ingredients will separate and you get the most goodness immediately it has blended. If you do like a cold drink, then add some ice.

Key point: If you don’t have any problems digesting fruits and vegetables, you can mix and match any combination of the vegetables and fruits listed above. If you have a sensitive digestive tract, it is best to combine only one vegetable and one fruit at a time.