What Is Bok Choy Good For?
What Is Bok Choy Good For?
Oh, Boy – Bok Choy!
Botanical name: Brassica campestris
Cultivated in China for centuries, bok choy has played a large part not only in its cuisine, but in traditional Chinese medicine. Today, it’s a staple in both Asian and American recipes.
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. 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.
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.
Health Benefits 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.
The list of attributes for this one vegetable is virtually endless. That’s why it’s one of Dr. Mercola’s most highly recommended vegetables. (See The Best and Worst Vegetables to Eat)
Bok Choy Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: One cup of bok choy (70 grams)
Amt. Per Serving
Studies Done on Bok Choy
Beta carotene levels in bok choy are high enough for the veggie to be highly recommended by the Macular Degeneration Association. In fact, a single cup of bok choy contains the entire RDA of beta carotene, which has been shown to prevent night blindness and possibly reduce the risk of cataract and macular degeneration.1
The Harvard School of Public Health released the findings of an interesting study, asserting that high dairy intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. The study suggested that better forms of calcium should come from collards and bok choy.2
Another study by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that eating dark, leafy green vegetables such as bok choy may improve breast cancer survival. A study of nearly 5,000 Chinese breast cancer survivors revealed a 27 to 62 percent decrease in the risk of dying from the disease when they consumed more cruciferous vegetables.3 Further, the chance of breast cancer recurrence in those participating in the program dropped by 21 to 35 percent. The study noted a higher intake of greens like bok choy among Chinese women than that of women in the U.S.
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. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- Heat a large nonstick 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, and cornstarch; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
The name “bok choy” originated from the Chinese word for “soup spoon” because of the shape of its leaves.
A Chinese food and medicine favorite for centuries, leafy green bok choy is becoming more and more appreciated in the U.S. Not only is it very versatile in its methods of preparation, from raw in salads to marinated a dozen ways as a stir fry. Nutritionally, bok choy is loaded with cancer-fighting properties and a host of other health benefits, some of which are still being discovered.