What Is Bok Choy?

You have probably recently found yourself in a situation where you were ordering food at a Chinese restaurant and saw the words "bok choy" written next to several items on the menu.

After reading the menu, you probably had one question: "What is bok choy?"

Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that has wide, flat leafs at one end with a cluster similar to celery forming at the other end.

The leafy green was first cultivated in China thousands of years ago, but has become quite popular around the world where it is also know as "Chinese cabbage."

Bok Choy is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also includes vegetables such as kale, watercress broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips.

Cruciferous vegetables are held in high regard due to their nutritional value and myriad of health benefits.

Raw bok choy

Benefits Of Eating Bok Choy

Like other cruciferous vegetables, bok choy is loaded with nutrients and other healthy properties that it make an ideal choice when searching out healthy greens to incorporate into someone's diet.

Here are just a few of the many health benefits that make bok choy so popular in health communities.

1. Protection From Cancer

The National Cancer Institute has pointed towards several studies looking into the associations between the intake of cruciferous vegetables like bok choy and the risk of cancer. Several case-control studies found that people who ate greater amounts of vegetables like bok choy had a lower risk of prostate cancer.

2. Bone Health

A diet lacking vitamin K is linked with higher risk of bone rupture, but eating more bok choy, which is a great source of the key vitamin, can help enhance the absorption of calcium.

3. Heart Health

Bok choy contains folic acid and vitamins B-6 and C, which are instrumental in the strengthening of the heart due to their ability to reduce the level of homocysteine in the blood. Excess amounts of this compound can damage blood vessels and lead to heart issues.

4. Blood Pressure

Bok choy is high in potassium. How high? Well, a single cup of this leafy green contains approximately 20% of your daily recommended amount. Potassium helps relieve tension on the blood vessels and puts less strain on your cardiovascular system.

5. Immune System

Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable, which provides our bodies with much needed isothiocyanates — chemicals that protect our cells from infection. Not to mention, watercress also contains vitamin C, which protects the body against diseases caused by bacteria and virus.

Beef, veggie, and bok choy stir fry

Bok Choy Recipes

There's no wrong way to enjoy bok choy — this leafy green can be enjoyed in its raw form as well as cooked — so there's no reason you shouldn't incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your diet.

Here are a few of our favorite bok choy recipes.

Starting things off we have this amazingly simple yet delicious apple bok choy salad that puts great use to the leafy green, apples, carrots, onions, and several other ingredients to craft exquisite salad for anytime of the year. It also calls for dairy-free milk and butter, making it ideal for those on a plant-based diet.

Next we have an easy bok choy stir fry recipe that can be eaten as its on dish or eaten alongside a protein and starch to create full meal. With only bok choy, garlic, oil, and salt, this recipe is a go-to weeknight meal.

Then you have this 10 minute garlic bok choy recipe that will surely become a favorite addition to your side dish rotation. Similar to the recipe listed above, this stir fry recipe brings back the union of bok choy and garlic but also adds ginger and soy sauce to the mix.

And if you want to throw in a little meat with your bok choy, check out this great steak, shiitake, and bok choy stir fry recipe that won't take too long to prepare.

Prepared bok choy

Bok Choy Vs. Other Leafy Greens

Bok choy is often compared to the other leafy greens like kale and spinach, but how do they actually compare on a nutritional level? Here's a quick breakdown of the nutritional information for each vegetable.

Bok Choy Nutritional Information

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of raw bok choy contains the following:

  • 9 calories
  • 1.05 g of protein
  • 0.14 g of fat
  • 1.53 g of carbohydrates
  • 0.7 g of fiber
  • 74 mg of calcium
  • 0.56 mg of iron
  • 13 mg of magnesium
  • 26 mg of potassium
  • 46 mg of sodium
  • 0.13 mg of zinc
  • 31.5 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.35 mg of niacin
  • .14 mg of vitamin B-6
  • 46 µg (microgram) of folate
  • 156 µg of vitamin A
  • 31.9 µg of vitamin K

The USDA research shows that 1 cup of raw kale contains the following:

  • 7 calories
  • 0.61 g of protein
  • 0.31 g of fat
  • .93 g of carbohydrates
  • 0.9 g of fiber
  • 53 mg of calcium
  • 0.34 mg of iron
  • 7 mg of magnesium
  • 73 mg of potassium
  • 11 mg of sodium
  • 0.08 mg of zinc
  • 16.6 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.25 mg of niacin
  • 0.031 mg of vitamin B-6
  • 13 µg (microgram) of folate
  • 51 µg of vitamin A
  • 81.8 µg of vitamin K

The USDA research shows that 1 cup of raw spinach contains the following:

  • 7 calories
  • 0.86 g of protein
  • 0.12 g of fat
  • 1.09 g of carbohydrates
  • 0.7 g of fiber
  • 30 mg of calcium
  • 0.81 mg of iron
  • 24 mg of magnesium
  • 167 mg of potassium
  • 24 mg of sodium
  • 0.16 mg of zinc
  • 8.4 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.22 mg of niacin
  • 0.059 mg of vitamin B-6
  • 58 µg (microgram) of folate
  • 141 µg of vitamin A
  • 144.9 µg of vitamin K

Looking at the information in those lists, it won't take long to see that each of the three vegetables have something over the others. Whether it's higher levels of potassium and calcium, higher protein, or any other factor, there are a few differences.

Those differences, however, don't matter all too much as all three of these vegetables are highly nutritious and should be included in your diet.

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