Bok choy, pak choi or Chinese white cabbage, belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables. It was first cultivated in China thousands of years ago. Now it is available all over the world.
Cruciferous vegetables include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips.
These vegetables are a good supply of nutrients, and they are low in calories. They are well suited to a healthy diet.
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Nutritional content of bok choy
Bok choy, or Chinese cabbage, has may health benefits.
A one-cup serving of raw bok choy provides 5 percent of daily potassium needs, 62 percent of vitamin A, 7 percent of calcium, 5 percent of vitamin B-6, 3 percent of magnesium, 3 percent of iron and 52 percent of vitamin C needs.
Bok choy ranks sixth on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) for fruits and vegetables. The index rates foods based not only on their vitamin and mineral content but also their phytochemical composition and antioxidant capacity.
Foods with the most nutrients per calorie have the highest rankings.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as bok choy, are rich in glucosinolates. These are sulfur-containing compounds that have been found to benefit human health in a variety of ways.
Possible health benefits of bok choy
The nutrients in bok choy offer protection from a number of conditions.
Protection from cancer
Bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables have certain anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung, prostate, colon, and breast cancer.
Bok choy contains folate. Folate plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, so it prevents cancer cells from forming due to mutations in the DNA. Vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene function as powerful antioxidants that help protect cells against free radical damage.
Selenium is a mineral that does not occur in most fruits and vegetables, but it can be found in bok choy. It plays a role in liver enzyme function, and it helps to detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation, and it also decreases tumor growth rates.
The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin K in bok choy all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.
Iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen.
Phosphorus and calcium are both important in bone structure. However, the two must be carefully balanced for proper bone mineralization. Too much phosphorus with too little calcium intake can result in bone loss.
Low vitamin K intake has been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health, as it modifies bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption, and it may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.
Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in bok choy. They have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.
A low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure. A high potassium intake is also beneficial because of its vasodilation effects.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of adults in the United States meet the daily requirement of 4,700 milligrams.
Bok choy's folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all help to maintain a healthy heart.
Vitamin B-6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. Excess homocysteine in the body can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.
Choline helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. It also helps in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes, the transmission of nerve impulses, the absorption of fat and the reduction of chronic inflammation.
The selenium found in bok choy has been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating production of killer T-cells.
Collagen, the skin's support system, relies on vitamin C as an essential nutrient. Vitamin C works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C also promotes collagen's ability to smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Increasing consumption of plant foods, including bok choy, has been shown to decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality, while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.
Some studies have provided strong evidence that cruciferous vegetables can help people with diabetes to maintain their blood sugar levels.
Incorporating bok choy into the diet
All parts of bok choy can be consumed. They are prepared in a variety of ways. In addition to its low-calorie and high nutrient content, its mildly sweet flavor and crisp texture make it an agreeable addition to almost any dish.
Bok choy goes well in a stir fry.
Here are some quick tips:
- Shred raw bok choy and toss with other fresh vegetables to make a salad
- Add chopped bok choy to hot and sour soup
- Stir-fry bok choy with a variety of vegetables, some soy sauce, and sesame oil
- Sauté fresh garlic and ginger in olive oil until soft, then add bok choy and continue to sauté until desired tenderness
- Mix minced bok choy, mushrooms, chives, and soy sauce together to make a homemade dumpling filling.
Here are some links to recipes using bok choy:
- Stir fried bok choi with ginger and garlic
- Bok choi salad
- Chicken and bok choy soup
- Sesame shiitake bok choy
Potential health risks of consuming bok choy
Raw bok choy, like all cruciferous vegetables, contains the enzyme myrosinase. Myrosinase can hinder thyroid function by preventing the body from absorbing iodine. It is deactivated by cooking. Eating raw bok choy in moderate amounts does not pose a hazard.
A person who is taking blood-thinners, such as Coumadin, or warfarin, should not suddenly begin to eat more or fewer foods containing vitamin K, as vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting.
To achieve good health and prevent disease, it is important to consider the overall diet. It is better to consume a variety of foods than to concentrate on individual items as the key to good health.