The Health Benefits of Bok Choy

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.

Nutritional content of bok choy

[bok choy]
Bok choy, or Chinese cabbage, has may health benefits.

One cup of raw bok choy contains 9 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1.5 grams of carbohydrates, 0.7 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of cholesterol, and 0.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat.

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.

Other vitamins and minerals include 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.

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.

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.

Bone health

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.

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.

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.

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.

[stir fry bok choi]
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.

 

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