What is Bok Choy?
A deep green leafy vegetable that resembles Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom, bok choy is a crucifer more closely related to cabbage. 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.
Health Benefits of Bok Choy
Blood pressure: 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.
Strong Bones: 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.
Inflammation: 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.
Immunity: The selenium found in bok choy has been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating production of killer T-cells.
Skin: 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.
Heart Health: Folate and vitamin B-6 remove the amino acid homocysteine from the blood. This is important because high levels of homocysteine increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. You’ll gain 11 percent of the recommended daily intake of both folate and vitamin B-6 by eating 1 cup of shredded bok choy. It also has 4 percent of the daily value of potassium, which regulates the heartbeat. The calcium and magnesium essential for bones also play a role in maintaining a healthy heart. Calcium stimulates heart muscles to contract, while magnesium encourages them to relax.
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. The glucosinolates found in these vegetables are converted into isothiocyanates in the body, and these compounds help the body to fight 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.
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 colon cancer.
Cancer Protection: Like all members of the cruciferous vegetable family, bok choy has unique sulfur-containing compounds that may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, lung and digestive tract cancers. These substances may help the body eliminate carcinogens, prevent cells from turning into cancer or alter metabolism to stop the development of hormone-sensitive cancers. One cup of chopped bok choy has 38 milligrams of glucosinolates, but a daily recommendation hasn’t been established.
Uses of Bok Choy
The entire vegetable can be used, and is often added raw to salads for a satisfying crunch. In soups, the leaves and stalks should be chopped and added separately, since the stalks take longer to cook.
- Its stalks can be mix well with cabbage in coleslaw.
- Baby bok choy can be a very attractive addition to salads and stir-fries.
- Crispy, sweet bok choy stalks can be eaten raw, added to salads, sandwiches, and burgers.
- In korean peninsula, it is employed much like napa cabbage in the preparation of “bok-choy kimchi”.
- In China and other East Asian regions, it is used much like cabbage in stew fries with added onion, garlic, bell pepper, and green chillies mixed with steamed rice and soy/chilli/tomato sauce to prepare chowmein.
Bok choy can also be steamed or boiled, but the stir fry method of cooking seems to release the best flavors. Kimchee is the Korean name for pickled bok choy. When shredded, it makes great coleslaw. An alternate take: try bok choy sautéed with ginger and garlic. All these are ideal methods of preparation for a ready-made food that also happens to be loaded with life-giving nutrients.
Nutritional value of Bok Choy
Containing a wealth of vitamins C, A, and K, and excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and iron, bok choy deserves its reputation as a powerhouse among vegetables. Vitamin A, for instance, is essential for a properly functioning immune system, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals. Bok choy supplies potassium for healthy muscle and nerve function, and vitamin B6 for carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.