Bok choy or pak choi is a type of Chinese cabbage. Chinensis varieties do not form heads; instead, they have smooth, dark green leaf blades forming a cluster reminiscent of mustard or celery. Chinensis varieties are popular in southern China and Southeast Asia. Being winter-hardy, they are increasingly grown in Northern Europe. This group was originally classified as its own species under the name B. chinensis by Linnaeus.
Bok choy contains a high amount of vitamin A per 4 oz. of serving - about 3500 IU. Bok choy also contains approximately 50 mg of vitamin C per 4 oz. serving.
Chinese cabbage was ranked second for nutrient density out of 41 "powerhouse" fruits and vegetables in a peer-reviewed US Center for Disease Control study.
Bok choy contains glucosinolates. These compounds have been reported to prevent cancer in small doses, but, like many substances, can be toxic to humans in large doses, particularly to people who are already seriously ill. In 2009, an elderly diabetic woman who had been consuming 1 to 1.5 kg of raw bok choy per day, in an attempt to treat her diabetes, developed hypothyroidism, for reasons relating to her diabetes, resulting in myxedema coma.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 54 kJ (13 kcal)
Dietary fiber 1.0 g
Vitamin A equiv. (30%) 243 μg
Vitamin A 4468 IU
Vitamin C (54%) 45 mg
Calcium (11%) 105 mg
Iron (6%) 0.80 mg
Magnesium (5%) 19 mg
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.
Cabbage including bok choy contains powerful antioxidants like vitamins A and C and phytonutrients such as thiocyanates, lutein, zeaxanthin, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes and may protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
Bok choy contains a wealth of anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check. You need some level of inflammation in your body to stay healthy. However, it’s also possible, and increasingly common, for the inflammatory response to get out of hand.
One cup of bok choy contains about 26 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K1, a fat-soluble vitamin most well-known for the important role it plays in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K1 is also a known Alzheimer’s disease preventive by helping to limit neuron damage in your brain.
Bok choy is also an excellent source of calcium… so good that nutrition experts from The Harvard School of Public Health called out bok choy as being a better source of dietary calcium than dairy products. It also contains other important nutrients for bone health, including magnesium and phosphorus.
Cabbage like bok choy contains healthy amounts of B vitamins, including folate (which is better than the synthetic form known as folic acid found in many supplements), vitamin B6, vitamin B1, and vitamin B5. B vitamins are not only important for energy, but they may also slow brain shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
Sulforaphane in bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. Scientists believe sulforaphane’s benefits are related to improved DNA methylation, which is crucial for normal cellular function and proper gene expression, especially in the easily damaged inner lining of the arteries known as the endothelium.
Bok Choy Healthy Recipe: Stir-Fried Sesame Bok Choy
1 tsp. sesame oil (dark)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 lbs. baby bok choy, carefully cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
2 Tbsp. naturally fermented soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Heat a large skillet or wok to med-high heat until a drop of water sizzles. Add oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the pan.
Add in the garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper; stir-fry until fragrant - about 30 seconds.
Add in the bok choy; cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, soy sauce, sugar or honey, and flour; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thickened.
Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds.