Bok choy, pak choi or white Chinese cabbage, belongs to the vegetable cruciferous family. First cultivated thousands of years ago in China, it is now available throughout the world.
Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips are among other cruciferous vegetables.
Such vegetables have a healthy nutrient supply and are low in calories. For a balanced diet, they are well suited.
In bok choy, the nutrients can offer protection from a number of conditions.
Protection from cancer
There are certain anti-cancer properties in Bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables.
Bok choy contains the mineral selenium, unlike most other fruits and vegetables.
Cruciferous and other vegetables, because they provide fiber, also offer protection. Fiber keeps the stool moving. This keeps the intestines healthy and reduces the risk that colorectal cancer may develop.
Fibrous foods, which affect overall health, metabolism, and digestion, also feed healthy gut bacteria.
Health of the bone
In the production and growth of collagen, iron and zinc play crucial roles.
In the bone structure, phosphorus and calcium are both important. However, proper bone growth needs a careful balance of both these nutrients. Bone loss can result from a diet that contains too much phosphorus and not enough calcium.
Vitamin K helps maintain the calcium balance in the bones, which means that it can help reduce the risk of fractures in the bones.
People should increase their potassium intake, according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Some evidence shows that a daily intake of 4,700 mg of potassium reduces blood pressure due to high sodium intake.
The same article notes that too much sodium is consumed by many people, which raises the risk of developing high blood pressure. No more than 1500 milligrams (mg) of sodium should be consumed by individuals per day.
The folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 content of Bok choy, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all help improve cardiovascular health.
A National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) published in 2011 found that people who consumed too much sodium and not enough potassium had a “significantly greater” risk of cardiovascular disease.
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 assists with sleep, movement of muscles, learning, and memory. It also helps the body’s cells maintain their shape and helps to absorb fat and decrease chronic inflammation.
By stimulating the production of T-cells that identify and kill invading bacteria and viruses, the selenium found in bok choy has been found to improve the immune response to infection.
The skin’s support system, collagen, relies on vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient with antioxidant properties that may help prevent sun, pollution, and smoke from causing damage. Vitamin C also promotes the capacity of collagen to soften wrinkles and improve the overall texture of the skin.
Type 2 diabetes
Some studies have suggested that cruciferous vegetables can help to maintain blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. A meta-analysis published in 2018, however, concluded that the evidence was “not convincing” for such a link.
Non-starchy vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables, are defined by the American Diabetes Association as “one food group where you can satisfy your appetite.”
According to the National Nutrient Database of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 cup of bok choy raw, 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
For adults eating 2,000 calories per day and children over 4 years of age, according to the National Institutes of Health, 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 the age of 4 need less of these nutrients, and more will be needed for people who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
A daily value of 20 percent or higher is considered high, while a value of 5 percent or lower suggests a low level.
Other vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, folate, choline, beta-carotene, and vitamin K are found in Bok choy.
For fruits and vegetables, Bok choy ranks sixth on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).
The index not only rates foods on the basis of their vitamin and mineral content, but also their phytochemical composition and potential for antioxidants.
Foods with the most nutrients per calorie have the highest rankings on this index.
Cruciferous vegetables are high in glucosinolates, such as bok choy. These are compounds containing sulfur that in a variety of ways can support human health.
All sections of bok choy can be consumed by people. It can be prepared by individuals in a number of ways. Its mildly sweet flavor and crisp texture make it a pleasant addition to almost any dish, in addition to its low-calorie and high nutrient content.
Cooking vegetables decreases the quantity of nutrients they consist.
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 vs. spinach
The nutritious vegetables are both Bok Choy and spinach, but they have a different taste 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
Bok choy contains more vitamin C, vitamin A, and some other nutrients than spinach at an equivalent raw weight and around the same amount of calcium.
However, spinach contains higher levels of some other nutrients than bok choy, including vitamin K.
Both are extremely nutritious vegetables, however, and both can form part of a balanced diet.
Raw bok choy produces an enzyme called myrosinase, as all cruciferous vegetables do.
By preventing the body from consuming iodine, myrosinase can impair thyroid function. It deactivates cooking. Eating raw bok choy does not pose a danger in moderate quantities.
As vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting, a person taking blood thinners such as coumadin or warfarin should not suddenly increase or decrease the amount of vitamin K they ingest in food.
To achieve good health and prevent illness, it is important to consider the overall diet. As the secret to good health, it is easier to eat a range of foods than to focus on specific products.
- Basic Report: 11116, Cabbage, chinese (pak-choi), raw. (2018, April) (LINK)
- Basic report: 11457, spinach, raw. (2018, April)
- Bone health: Looking beyond calcium. (2017, January 11)
- Chen, G. C., Koh, W. P., Yuan, J. M., Qin, Q. L., & van Dam, R. M. (2018, May). Green leafy and cruciferous vegetable consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: Results from the Singapore Chinese Health Study and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 119(9), 1057-1067
- Chu, M., Seltzer, T. F. (2010, May 20). Myxedema coma induced by ingestion of raw bok choy. New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 2010, 362, 1945–1946
- Choline: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2018, March 2)
- Cogswell, M. E., Zhang, Z., Carriquiry, A. L., Gunn, J. P., Kuklina, E. V., Saydah, S. H. … Mosfegh, A.J. (2012, August 1). Sodium and potassium intakes among US adults: NHANES 2003–2008. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(3), 647–657
- Cruciferous vegetables and cancer protection. (2012, June 7)
- Folate: Daily supplement Fact Sheet. (2018, March 2)
- Fuhrman, J. (2017, March 16). ANDI food scores: Rating the nutrient density of foods
- Ganguly, P., & Alam, S. F. (2015, January 10). Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease. Nutrition Journal, 14(6)
- Hinzey, E. M. (2017, January 11)
- Labeling daily values. (n.d.)
- Non-starchy vegetables. (2017, August 25)
- The health benefits of bok choy (LINK)
- Selenium: Fact sheet for health professionals. (2018, March 2)
- Wu, Q.-J., Yang, Y., Wang, J., Han, L.-H., Xiang, Y.-B. (2013, August). Cruciferous vegetable consumption and gastric cancer risk: A meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Cancer Science, 104(8), 1067–1073
- Yang, Q., Liu, T., Kuklina, E. V., Flanders, D., Hong, Y., Gillespie, C., … Hu, F. B. (2011, July 11). Sodium and potassium intake and mortality among US adults: Prospective data from the third National Health and Nutrition Survey. Archives of Internal Medicine, 171(3), 1183–1191