Bok Choy or Pak Choi, also referred to as the Chinese cabbage or snow cabbage is a highly appreciated leafy vegetable not only in the Asian countries but also in the western world. A member of the cabbage family, this vegetable in fact exists in different types, varying in size, color and taste. Although a native of China, Bok Choy is nowadays cultivated and harvested in many parts of world. It has a very mild flavor, can be eaten raw and is also a great addition to soups, salads and stir fries. Because of the peculiar shape of its leaves, Bok Choy is sometimes called the soup spoon.
Nutritional value of Bok Choy
Bok Choy is a wonderful vegetable that is low in calories, fat, and sodium but at the same time, an excellent source of many nutrients like protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is high in vitamin C that helps in improving your body’s immunity and also in fighting off harmful free radicals. In addition to vitamin C, it is also a good source of other important vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, thiamin, and riboflavin. Bok Choy is also rich in minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese and zinc. Antioxidants like beta- carotene, carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in high amounts in this vegetable. 100 grams of Bok choy or pak choi offer nearly 90%, 75% and 60% of daily dietary requirement of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K respectively!
Health benefits of Bok Choy
Bok Choy is not only a staple food of the Chinese but has also played a key role in traditional Chinese medicine. Being an abundant source of powerful and health benefitting nutrients, this green leafy vegetable deserves to be called a super food.
Bok Choy for cardiovascular health
Studies reveal that a diet rich in vitamin C can improve the health of your cardiovascular system to a great extent. Bok Choy is a good source of this vitamin and hence incorporating it in your diet can help in keeping your heart healthy. Vitamin B6 and folate found in Bok Choy prevents the increase in levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is responsible for increasing the chances of cardiovascular problems. Bok choy contains good amounts of potassium that regulates heart beat and also helps in lowering high blood pressure. Minerals like calcium and magnesium present in this vegetable promotes the smooth contraction and relaxation of the heart muscles.
Lower cholesterol with Bok Choy
As mentioned earlier, Bok Choy is a great source of dietary fiber that helps in maintaining a healthy weight and also in improving the functioning of the digestive system. Furthermore the soluble fiber and insoluble fiber found in this vegetable work together to bind the fat and bile in your digestive system, thereby preventing the accumulation of cholesterol in your blood stream.
Good for nerves and blood – Bok Choy
Bok Choy is an excellent source of vitamin B6 and folate, two B complex vitamins which are associated with the production of hemoglobin that helps in transporting oxygen to the different parts of your body. Potassium in this vegetable keeps the level of sodium under check and is very useful for maintaining the health of your nervous system. Including Bok Choy in your diet can thus help in improving circulation and also the functioning of the nervous system.
Skin benefit of Bok Choy
Bok Choy is loaded with vitamins A, C and D, which makes it an extremely beneficial food for maintaining your skin health. These vitamins work together to improve collagen production and prevent damage of the skin. This vegetable is high in antioxidants that fight off free radicals and protect your skin from oxidation stress. As a result, it helps in delaying the aging process and in inhibiting the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines. Bok Choy has been found to have antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which helps in fighting skin conditions like acne, rashes, eczema and pimples. The juice obtained from this vegetable helps in keeping your skin smooth and supple and is also a great remedy for skin allergies. Bok Choy also helps in keeping your skin moist, thus preventing dryness.
Bok Choy and hair benefits
Bok Choy contains vitamin E and vitamin C, both of which are helpful in maintaining healthy hair and in promoting hair growth. Hair fall mostly occurs due to the low levels of ferritin (amount of iron in your body). Since Bok Choy is a good source of iron, its consumption is a great way to increase the levels of ferritin and prevent hair loss.
Bok Choy for cancer prevention
Studies have found that eating cruciferous vegetables like Bok Choy can reduce the risk of certain types of cancers like colon cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. This ability of the vegetable to fight cancer may be attributed to the presence of compounds called glucosinolates. Inside our body, these compounds get converted to isothiocyanates that have been found to have the potential to prevent cancer. Additionally Bok Choy contains flavonoid phytonutrients that have powerful antioxidant properties, with the help of which the harmful effects of free radicals are neutralized.
Benefits of pak choi for bones
Vitamin K found in Bok Choy improves the strength of your bones by directing calcium to the bones, thereby increasing the absorption of this mineral by your body. Moreover, this vegetable provides its own amount of calcium, thus helping in building stronger bones and teeth.
Bok Choy improves digestion
Bok Choy is a good source of dietary fiber, which is important for the proper digestion of food. Fiber adds bulk to your stools and aids in its easy removal from your digestive system. By making the bowel movements regular, Bok Choy is beneficial in preventing digestive problems like constipation.
Benefits of Bok Choy for eyes
According to studies, the level of beta carotene in Bok Choy is very high such that a single cup of this vegetable can provide the entire recommended dietary allowances of beta carotene. This is important because beta carotene plays a vital role in protecting the health of your eyes. Many scientific researches suggest that it may be helpful in preventing cataracts, fighting retinitis pigmentosa, lowering the risks of age-related macular degeneration, and in improving night vision.
Bok Choy for pregnant women
It is important for pregnant women to intake a good amount of folic acid in order to prevent the occurrence of birth defects in the baby. Bok Choy is a good source of folate and hence eating this vegetable can help in meeting the nutritional needs of the expecting mother as well as the fetus. In addition to providing nutrition to both the mother and fetus, Bok Choy is also helpful in encouraging the production of breast milk in lactating mothers. Vitamin K offered by bok choy is also important during pregnancy.
Get slim with Bok Choy
Bok Choy is an excellent food option when it comes to a weight loss diet. In addition to being a low calorie vegetable, it also provides plenty of nutrition and dietary fiber. The fiber in Bok Choy prevents you from overeating by making you feel fuller for a long time without adding more calories. It can fill your plate in almost any meal. Green smoothie made from bok choy, banana, some mint and basil leaves is superb way to enjoy its weight management benefits.
Bok Choy boosts immunity
Bok Choy is rich in vitamin C, which is associated with strengthening your immune system and in protecting your body from the attack of disease causing germs and microbes.
Bok Choy for Type 2 diabetics
Green leafy vegetables like Bok Choy are low in calories and carbs and hence are a great addition to a diabetic diet. This vegetable holds a place in the list of vegetables recommended by The American Diabetes Association for people suffering from diabetes.
Bok Choy and kidney health
Bok Choy helps in boosting the detoxification function of your kidneys by increasing its ability to transport the harmful toxins into your urine, where they are eliminated. Bok Choy is a low oxalate food and hence eating it can reduce your risks of developing kidney stones.
Side effects of Bok Choy
Despite the fact that Bok Choy is nutrient dense and provides your body with the vital nutrients, eating too much of raw Bok Choy can lead to negative effects on your thyroid gland. This vegetable has been found to contain certain compounds called goitrogens that can cause your thyroid gland to enlarge, a condition known as goiter. It can also inhibit the functioning of the thyroid gland leading to hypothyroidism. However, cooking Bok Choy can decrease the effects of these compounds.
Selection and storage of Bok Choy
When buying Bok Choy, always choose the ones with a firm stalk and dark crisp leaves. Avoid the ones that have wilted leaves, brown spots and other discoloration. Bok Choy will keep fresh for more than a week when stored in a plastic bag inside the crisper section of the refrigerator. Make sure to wash immediately before serving.
Healthy ways to enjoy Bok choy
Bok choy is can be really enjoyed raw along with salads, burgers or sandwiches. Try some green smoothies from bok choy as part of your weight loss diet. Bok choy stew, fries and soups tastes equally good. In case you want to makes some stuffed food, bok choy is a good choice. Chopped bok choy is excellent garnishing other dishes.
The high nutritional value of Bok Choy makes it a perfect addition to your daily diet. This leafy vegetable can be beneficial for people dealing with low intake of vitamins. It is a highly nutritional and versatile vegetable with many health benefits that can help you maintain a healthy body.Image Credits: Flickr - Joel Ignacio, Flickr - Jason Rodman, Flickr - Lablascovegmenu, Honest cooking - Food Magazine