Bok choy, pak choi or Chinese white cabbage, belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables. First cultivated in China thousands of years ago, it is now available all over the world.
Other cruciferous vegetables include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips.
These vegetables are a good supply of nutrients and are low in calories. They are well- suited to a healthful diet.
The nutrients in bok choy may offer protection from a number of conditions.
Protection from cancer
Bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables have certain anti-cancer properties.
Unlike most other fruits and vegetables, bok choy contains the mineral selenium.
Cruciferous and other vegetables also offer protection because they provide fiber. Fiber keeps the stool moving. This keeps the bowel healthy and reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Fibrous foods also feed healthy gut bacteria, which affects overall health, metabolism, and digestion.
Iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and growth of collagen.
Phosphorus and calcium are both important in bone structure. However, proper bone growth needs a careful balance of both these nutrients. A diet that contains too much phosphorus and not enough calcium can result in bone loss.
Vitamin K helps maintain the balance of calcium in the bones, which means it might help reduce the risk of bone fractures.
According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people should increase their intake of potassium. Some evidence shows that consuming 4,700 mg of potassium daily decreases blood pressure caused by high sodium intake.
The same article notes that many people consume too much sodium, which increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. people should consume no more than 1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.
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.
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) published in 2011 found a "significantly higher" risk of cardiovascular disease among people who consumed too much sodium and not enough potassium.
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 cells in the body to keep their shape and helps absorb fat and reduce chronic inflammation.
The selenium found in bok choy has been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating the production of T-cells that identify and kill invading bacteria and viruses.
Collagen, the skin's support system, relies on vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has antioxidant properties that may 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.
Type 2 diabetes
Some studies have suggested that cruciferous vegetables can help people with diabetes to maintain their blood sugar levels. However, a meta-analysis published in 2018 concluded that the evidence for such a link was "not convincing."
The American Diabetes Association describe non-starchy vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables, as "one food group where you can satisfy your appetite."
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of raw bok choy, weighing 70 grams (g) contains:
- 9 calories
- 1.05 g of protein
- 1.53 g of carbohydrates
- 0.7 g of dietary fiber
- 0 g of cholesterol
- 0.067 g of polyunsaturated fat
- 74 mg of calcium
- 0.56 mg of iron
- 13 mg of magnesium
- 26 mg of phosphorus
- 176 mg of potassium
- 46 mg of sodium
- 0.13 mg of zinc
- 31.5 mg of vitamin C
- 46 micrograms (mcg) of folate
- 156 mcg of vitamin A (RAE)
- 31.9 mcg of vitamin K
According to the National Institutes of Health, for adults eating 2,000 calories per day and children over 4 years old, 1 cup of raw bok choy provides:
- 3.7 percent of daily potassium needs
- 17 percent of vitamin A
- 5.7 percent of calcium
- 26.5 percent of vitamin K
- 3.1 percent of magnesium
- 3.1 percent of iron
- 35 percent of vitamin C
Infants and children under 4 years old need less of these nutrients, and people who are pregnant and breastfeeding will require more.
A value of 20 percent or higher daily value is considered high, whereas a 5-percent or lower value indicates a low level.
Bok choy contains other vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, folate, choline, beta-carotene, and vitamin K.
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.
On this index, 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 may benefit human health in a variety of ways.
People can consume all parts of bok choy. People can prepare it 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.
Cooking vegetables reduces the number of nutrients they contain.
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 to make a homemade dumpling filling
Here are some links to recipes using bok choy:
Stir-fried bok choi with ginger and garlic
Bok choy and spinach are both nutritious vegetables, but they have a different flavor and texture.
According to the USDA, 70 g of raw spinach leaves contain:
- 16 kcal of energy
- 2 g of protein
- 1.5 g of fiber
- 69 mg of calcium
- 1.90 mg of iron
- 55 mg of sodium
- 19.7 mg of vitamin C
- 136 mcg of folate
- 98.7 (RAE) mcg of vitamin A
- 338 mcg of vitamin K
In equivalent raw weight, bok choy contains more vitamin C, vitamin A, and some other nutrients than spinach and around the same amount of calcium.
Spinach, however, contains higher amounts of some other nutrients, including vitamin K, than bok choy.
However, both are highly nutritious vegetables, and both can form part of a healthful diet.
Raw bok choy, like all cruciferous vegetables, contains an enzyme called myrosinase.
Myrosinase can hinder thyroid function by preventing the body from absorbing iodine. Cooking deactivates it. 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 increase or reduce the amount of vitamin K they consume in food, as vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting.
It is essential to consider the overall diet to achieve good health and prevent disease. It is better to consume a variety of foods than to concentrate on individual items as the key to good health.