10 Impressive Health Benefits Of Bok Choy

Written by Sindhu Koganti

Bok choy (Brassica rapa) or pak choi is a type of Chinese cabbage that resembles a soup spoon. This cruciferous vegetable is replete with vital nutrients with several medicinal properties. Intake of bok choy may help reduce the risk of cancer, promote bone health, reduce chances of heart disease, boost eye health, and fight inflammation. You can also add this nutrient-dense veggie to your salads, soups, and stir-fries. In this article, we explore the health benefits of bok choy, its nutrition facts, how to incorporate it into your diet, and its possible side effects. Keep reading.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Bok Choy?

1. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

Cruciferous vegetables like bok choy contain cancer-fighting compounds that help reduce the risk of cancer. From one study, the presence of phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables can prevent carcinogenesis (transformation of normal cells into cancer cells). Sulphur-containing compounds in these green veggies such as glucosinolates help reduce cancer risk. Also, a high intake of cruciferous vegetables has been linked to a lower risk of colon and lung cancers.

As per studies, consumption of cruciferous vegetables at least once a week may reduce the risk of prostate, pancreatic, ovarian, liver, and stomach cancers. Brassinin, a phytochemical derived from cruciferous vegetables like bok choy, has anticancer effects and can inhibit cancer cell proliferation.

2. May Promote Bone Health

A study conducted on postmenopausal women found that increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy can reduce bone turnover and calcium loss in urine. Also, bok choy contains nutrients that are essential for bone health. According to the U.S. Department Of Agriculture, bok choy contains vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. These nutrients help in strengthening bones, maintaining bone structure, and prevent fractures.

As per another study, vitamin K not only increases bone mineral density but also reduces fracture rates. Dietary intake of 90 micrograms of vitamin K per day for females and 120 micrograms of the nutrient per day for males are recommended. Insufficient consumption of iron and zinc also may lead to osteoporosis and collagen depletion.

3. May Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease

In studies, intake of green leafy and cruciferous vegetables showed a 15.8% reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases. The vitamin and mineral lineup of bok choy lowers hypertension, which may otherwise lead to coronary heart disease. The vitamin B6 and folate in bok choy prevent the accumulation of homocysteine, which may otherwise damage the lining of arteries or lead to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside arteries). However, more studies are warranted to understand this benefit of bok choy.

4. May Boost Eye Health

Cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy, contain essential carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin that help boost eye health and prevent macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are fat-soluble antioxidants responsible for vision. They also reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Bok choy is also rich in vitamin A, a vitamin responsible for eye health.

5. May Fight Inflammation

Bok choy contains choline, which plays a key role in early brain development, muscle control, memory, and cell membrane signaling. It also helps reduce inflammation. Intake of cruciferous vegetables reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. As per one study, high consumption of Brassica vegetables, which contain glucosinolates, may induce enzymes that act against inflammation. This green leafy vegetable is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help lower inflammation. It is also rich in flavonoids like quercetin that help reduce inflammation.

6. May Boost The Immune System

Bok choy has vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that contributes to immune defense. It is also essential for collagen synthesis that assists in energy metabolism. It stimulates white blood cells (WBCs) and acts against infections. Also, the selenium in bok choy helps stimulate the production of T-cells and boosts immune function. However, more studies are needed to further understand this benefit of bok choy.

7. May Lower Blood Pressure

The rich mineral profile of bok choy helps lower blood pressure levels. As per one study, intake of 4700 milligrams of potassium per day decreases blood pressure in response to high sodium consumption. From another study conducted by the University of London, potassium also reduces the damage sodium may do to the cardiovascular system. However, more studies are needed to understand this mechanism of bok choy in humans.

8. May Support Thyroid Function

The selenium in bok choy may help promote thyroid function. These glands play a critical role in several metabolic reactions. A study conducted on 6152 individuals found that selenium deficiency may increase the risk of thyroid disease. Another study conducted by the Gauhati Medical College, India, found that consumption of selenium supplements may improve autoimmune thyroid disease. However, some believe that cruciferous vegetables, like bok choy, may instead interfere with thyroid function. Consult your doctor for more information.

9. May Assist In A Healthy Pregnancy

Bok choy is a rich source of folate that is crucial during pregnancy. Folate deficiency is linked to abnormalities in mothers and fetuses. A dosage of 600 micrograms of folic acid is recommended during pregnancy. A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that foods rich in folic acid may help prevent the risk of birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida. However, more studies are needed to understand this benefit of bok choy.

10. May Improve Skin Health

Bok choy contains vitamin C, an antioxidant known for its role in collagen production and combating free radicals. It may help reduce the risk of skin damage caused by external factors. It may also help fight the signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. However, limited data is available in this regard.

Also, bok choy speeds up the healing process. Much anecdotal evidence suggests that bok choy helps in heavy menstruation or hemorrhoid conditions.

Bok choy contains essential vitamins and minerals that help treat many health problems. Scroll down to find the nutrition profile of bok choy.

Bok Choy Nutrition Facts

One cup of shredded bok choy contains:

  • Calories: 9.1 kcal
  • Protein: 1.05 g
  • Fat: 0.14 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.53 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Calcium: 73.5 mg
  • Potassium: 176 mg
  • Sodium: 45.5 mg
  • Selenium: 0.35 micrograms
  • Vitamin C: 31.5 mg
  • Folate: 46.2 micrograms
  • Choline: 4.48 mg
  • Vitamin A: 156 micrograms
  • Lutein + zeaxanthin: 28 micrograms

These nutrients in bok choy are essential for the body to perform several metabolic reactions and to maintain overall health.

Bok choy is often confused with spinach. How are the two different?

Bok Choy Vs. Spinach

When we compare the nutritional aspects of bok choy and spinach, both contain a similar number of calories. Bok choy contains more vitamins C and A than spinach. Whereas spinach is richer in dietary fiber, iron, and vitamin K. Both these green leafy veggies have a different flavor.

Are bok choy and cabbage the same? Check out the next section to find the answer.

Bok Choy Vs. Cabbage

Bok choy and cabbage are two different vegetables. Bok choy contains more dark-colored leaves and white stalks. Cabbage has a light-green head.

The leaves of bok choy are more tender and sweeter than cabbage.

Bok choy has higher vitamin A content than cabbage, and cabbage has more dietary fiber.

You can consume all parts of the bok choy plant, including its white stems and green leaves. But how to incorporate bok choy into your diet? Scroll down to know.

How To Incorporate Bok Choy Into Your Diet?

Here are some ideas on how to prepare and eat bok choy:

  • Shred bok choy to make a raw salad with other vegetables.
  • Dice it and add it to soups.
  • Chop and incorporate it into a stir-fry.
  • Slice it and drizzle with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven.
  • Use the shredded bok choy with some other leafy greens on a sandwich.
  • Dice it finely and add it to fried rice.

You can add bok choy to your diet easily. Here are some easy-to-prepare bok choy recipes.

Bok Choy Recipes To Try

1. Bok Choy Salad

What Do You Need

  • Sliced bok choy – 2 bunches
  • Chopped green onions – 1 bunch
  • Olive oil – ½ cup
  • White sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Toasted almonds – 1/8 cup
  • Soy sauce – 3 tablespoons
  • White vinegar – ¼ cup
  • Chow mein noodles – ½ package

Process

  1. Mix olive oil, white vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce in a bowl.
  2. Close the bowl and shake until it mixes well.
  3. Combine the bok choy, green onions, almonds, and chow mein noodles in a salad bowl.
  4. Toss with dressing and serve.

2. Egg Bok Choy

What Do You Need

  • Finely chopped onion – 1
  • Bok choy – 1
  • Egg – 1
  • Green chilies – 2 or 3
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard seeds – ¼ teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Split black gram – 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 6

Process

  1. Separate the stalks of the bok choy and chop the stalks and the leaves finely.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, splutter some mustard seeds and curry leaves, and the split black gram.
  3. Saute the chopped onions and green chilies for a minute and add the chopped bok choy.
  4. Add salt and let it cook uncovered for about 7-8 minutes until the vegetable becomes tender.
  5. Add the egg and mix everything together.
  6. Keep mixing for another 1 or 2 minutes until the egg is cooked.
  7. Serve with rice or Indian bread.

3. Chicken And Bok Choy Soup

What Do You Need

  • Water – 6 cups
  • Onion – 1
  • Small potatoes – 6
  • Vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic cloves (minced) – 2
  • Chicken soup base – 4 teaspoons
  • Bok choy – 6 large ribs with leaves
  • Carrots – 4
  • Celery – 2 stalks
  • Boneless chicken – 2 (cut into ½ inch cubes)

Process

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic in the oil and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the stockpot and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are slightly tender.
  5. Add chicken and continue simmering for about 10 minutes.

These are some delicious recipes of bok choy. But if you can’t find it, you may use some other leafy veggies in its place.

Bok Choy Substitutes

Bok choy alternatives have some differences in taste and flavor. But they also are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals useful for maintaining your overall health. Here are some bok choy substitutes:

  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Napa cabbage

How to select and store bok choy? Here are some important tips to consider.

Bok Choy: Selection And Storage

Always select bok choy that has firm white stalks and crisp dark green leaves. Avoid those that are broken or have spotted leaves and limp stalks. If you want to store them in a refrigerator, keep them in a perforated plastic bag and they will last up to 3 to 4 days. Frozen bok choy can last between 10 and 12 months.

Bok choy is generally considered safe for many people. But does excess consumption cause side effects? Scroll down to know.

Too Much Bok Choy: Risks And Potential Side Effects

Bok choy is generally considered safe to consume. But it may cause some adverse effects in people who consume it in excess. In general, cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates that may inhibit iodine absorption. However, this effect depends on the amount of bok choy consumed and its form.  Cooked bok choy may not show any thyroid-inhibiting effect as heat deactivates the myrosinase enzyme (the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of glucosinolates).

If you are using any blood thinners, consult with your doctor before consuming bok choy. The vitamin K in bok choy may interfere with blood-thinning medications.

Conclusion

Bok choy is a leafy green vegetable native to China. It is low in calories, high in nutrients, and has many medicinal values. From reducing cancer risk to improving heart health, this cruciferous vegetable helps treat many health ailments. However, bok choy may cause side effects in some. Be wary if you are using any blood-thinning medications or have any pre-existing medical condition. Consult your doctor before consuming bok choy.

Sources

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Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.