When I read about the strange correlation between celery and sun damage, I was shocked! How could one of the most beloved foods in the diet community actually damage your skin? The break down was so interesting I couldn’t stop reading. Not to mention that celery actually contains toxins! All of this can be avoid with some simple fitness tips but celery toxins are definitely something to think about if you are going to be spending large amounts of time in the sun this summer.
Where do celery toxins come from?
Celery contains a toxin known as psoralens, which makes skin sensitive to the sun. These toxins are only found in raw celery because the psoralens are broken down once the celery is cooked. The toxins are found in a fungus known as “pink rot.” This fungus can be seen on the celery stalks as brown patches. So, the best way to avoid psoralens are to cut out or avoid eating any brown or discolored patches.
In chapter IV, titled “Hey, Bud, Can You Do Me A Fava?”, Dr. Moalem explains that celery defends itself from insects and fungi by producing a toxin called psoralen. Psoralen damages the DNA and tissue of harmful predators. The plant produces psoralen at a fast rate when it feels under attack by harmful predators like insects and fungi. Regular farmers who use synthetic pesticides essentially protect the plants from attack. However, organic farmers who do not use synthetic pesticides invite insects and fungi to feed on their celery, which in turn causes the celery to create more and more psoralen to protect itself. Thus “by keeping poison off the plant, the organic celery farmer is all but guaranteeing a biological process that will end up with lots of poison in the plant.”
The quote from Dr. Moalem above points out that organic celery is actually more apt to contain psoralen, so make sure you double check your stalks before checkout.
Celery and Peanut Butter the Ultimate Toxin?
It’s not uncommon to pair celery with the ever popular peanut butter. In fact, it’s been on the “healthy list” for quite some time. However, without knowing the backgrounds of these foods you could be munching away on a low carb snack in a hurry to race out into the sun.
Peanut butter can be equally as damaging if you understand the background of this nut. Aflatoxin is another toxin that grows on peanuts due to the moisture in the soul and the heat of the sun. While some may not experience GI tract problems, many people with food sensitivities will react. Personally, I can’t have peanuts due to my gluten intolerance. Peanut butter is definitely not my friend and the rebound affects leave me in pain for several hours.
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 (source).
Dr Weil mentions in his article that studies on various brands showed less amounts of Aflatoxin in the bigger brands such as (Peter Pan, Jiff, and Skippy), while the ground peanut butters (such as the ones you can create yourself in health food stores) contained more. However, the larger brands add in other ingredients such as extra sugars and hydrogenated oils which are just as damaging.
You don’t have to completely eliminate your old friend “celery and peanut butter,” but you might have to pay closer attention to the celery you choose and the brands of peanut butters you decide to consume. In a perfect world peanut butter would come with informative labels about the amounts of Aflatoxins (per billion) and celery would never have brown spots. Until then, listen to your body and pay attention to how you personally feel after you eat this low carb snack. Everyone is different and every system has a different level of tolerance for various foods. If you’re in the sun frequently, pay close attention to any brown spots on your celery to prevent sun damage from celery toxins.