Even though celery tastes like it’s basically all water, some people swear that it gives them gas.
Celery doesn’t cause gas in most people, but it can in people who are highly sensitive to mannitol.
In this short post, I’ve broken down what causes gas in the first place, and why celery causes gas in some people.
Table of Contents
Why Do Vegetables Like Celery Tend to Cause Gas
The vast majority of gas is produced as a result of your gut bacteria fermenting carbohydrates that didn’t break down in the stomach or small intestine.
There are a few different categories of carbohydrates like this that can lead to gas:
- FODMAPs – This group includes a fairly wide variety of short-chain carbohydrates, including sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol.
Now we can look at the amount of fiber and FODMAPs in Celery.
Fiber Content in Celery
The nutrition data in the table below comes from the USDA’s nutrition database.
All data is per 100 gram serving of raw celery. Note that a stalk of celery is usually 40-60 grams.
|Total Lipid (g)
Celery is very low in calories, which isn’t surprising.
It mainly consists of some sugar and fiber.
Even though 1.6 grams of fiber is a decent amount, you’d likely have to eat a full bundle of celery for it to cause gas issues. I don’t think many people are even capable of that.
Hard to Digest Carbohydrate Breakdown of Celery
Even though the fiber content of celery isn’t an issue, the other carbohydrates could.
Unfortunately, the USDA doesn’t have detailed enough data, so we’ll have to turn elsewhere.
The table below shows the various carbohydrates found in celery that I pulled from a study. It’s also per 100 grams, but the numbers don’t quite match the table above for one reason or another (e.g. different sample, methodology, etc.).
There’s a low amount of everything, except mannitol, which is a sugar alcohol.
You may have heard of other sugar alcohols like sorbitol, which are commonly added to sugar-free foods.
While sugar alcohols don’t always behave the exact same, sorbitol is known to have a laxative effect when consumed in large amounts, as it draws in extra water to the large intestine.
One study found that about 60-70% digest sorbitol poorly, although that number is only about 20% for mannitol (source).
So while most people can handle reasonable amounts of mannitol, some people struggle to digest it. In that case, it goes to your large intestine where it is fermented, and may even have a laxative effect like sorbitol in large amounts (especially for those with IBS).
How Much Celery Causes Gas?
If celery is giving you gas, the only thing you can do is to eat less.
Some people have stomach issues after eating just a few grams of sugar alcohols, so even just 3-4 full stalks of celery may be too much for them.
But it can vary widely from person to person, so you’ll have to determine your own limits.
If you’re getting gas from a small serving (i.e. 1 stalk of celery), you’re either hyper sensitive to mannitol (which there isn’t really any research about), or it’s something else that you’re eating alongside the celery that’s actually causing the issue.
It’s hard to test this much further, since mannitol isn’t that common in other foods. Two other vegetables that are relatively high in mannitol are cauliflower and button mushrooms. You can test if you respond to those as well to see if mannitol is truly the issue.