advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Does Celery Contain Too Many Toxins?

I love raw (organic) celery, but shy away from it because you wrote that it often contains natural toxins. You have also mentioned the aflatoxin in peanut butter.  Although I love eating these together, I am concerned about how much may be too much.

A
Answer (Published 1/18/2010)

It's true that celery contains some natural toxins - it produces psoralens, compounds that sensitize the skin to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. You only have to be concerned about these when you are dealing with raw celery – the psoralens are broken down by cooking. These toxins come from a common fungus called pink rot that affects celery. Pink rot is responsible for the brownish patches that discolor many celery stalks. If you avoid celery with the brownish patches, you shouldn't have to worry about the psoralens.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

Aflatoxin is another natural toxin produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus, molds that grow on peanuts stored in warm, humid silos. Peanuts aren't the only affected crops. Aflatoxins have been found in pecans, pistachios and walnuts, as well as milk, grains, soybeans and spices. Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen, known to cause liver cancer in laboratory animals and in Africans who depend on peanuts as a dietary staple.

Alarming as this may sound, I am less concerned than I used to be about aflatoxins in peanut products - including peanut butter - sold in the United States. A few years ago, Consumers Union looked into the question of aflatoxins in peanut butter and found that the amounts detectable varied from brand to brand. Surprisingly, the lowest amounts were found in the big supermarket brands such as Peter Pan, Jif and Skippy. The highest levels were found in peanut butter ground fresh in health food stores.

The U.S. government tests crops for aflatoxin and doesn't permit them to be used for human or animal food if they contain levels over 20 parts per billion. While we don't know much about the dangers of long-term exposure to low levels of aflatoxin, we can take comfort in the fact that there hasn't been an outbreak of liver cancer among U.S. kids, who as you know, consume enormous amounts of peanut butter.

There's no reason why you shouldn't continue to eat peanut butter (with celery) in moderation. When you buy peanut butter, look for brands containing only peanuts or peanuts and minimal salt and avoid those with hydrogenated oils, sugar and other additives. Make sure the celery you buy has no brown patches and definitely opt for organic; celery is one of the "dirty dozen" (see the full list below): the crops identified by the Environmental Working Group as having the highest residues of pesticides.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

EWG's list of the dirty dozen: 12 Foods You Should Always Buy Organic

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here