Generally known as snow cabbage or Chinese cabbage, bok choy (botanical name Brassica chinensis) has been cultivated for over 6,000 years now. In fact, it was the Chinese who first used bok choy in their delicious cuisines. This vegetable is a member of the plant family known as cruciferae, which also includes other vegetables like cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
Basically, bok choy is a vegetable having dark green leaves and belongs to the cabbage family. It is usually related to Chinese cuisine and frequently found in soups, stir fries and steamed dishes. This vegetable possesses a gentle spicy taste that reminds one of mustard. Outside China, bok choy grows without much difficulty in several regions across the world, though this vegetable is not used extensively in the cuisines of other regions. One should not mistake bok choy for Napa cabbage, despite the fact that several grocery stores also sell it as Chinese cabbage.
Apparently, bok choy somewhat has a resemblance with the top of celery having clusters of deep green hued leaves and, for this reason, it is known as celery cabbage in a number of regions across the globe. While buying bok choy in any grocery store, you need to ensure that the color of the vegetable is uniform all over and the leaves are crisp without any soft spots. Before using bok choy, you need to cut off its base and wash it properly under normal running water. Rinsing the vegetable is important because it helps to get rid of the dirt that has accumulated over it. You may store the vegetable in a sealed container in refrigerator. This way, you are able to keep the vegetable viable for use for anything between three to five days after buying it.
As bok choy contains a high level of water, it will become flaccid and spongy rapidly when it is cooked. This is the main reason why cooks add bok choy to recipes after preparing them for some time or when they are almost prepared. Compared to the leaves, it takes a longer time to cook the stems and, hence, several cooks separate the stems from the leaves of the vegetable to enable them to add the stems to the recipe just about a minute before adding the leaves. As bok choy possesses a stimulating flavour and is crunchy, it is a wonderful addition to several Chinese cuisines. In addition, you may also toss bok choy, a delectable vegetable, with pasta or add it to a combination of sautéed vegetables.
Health benefits of bok choy
Bok choy offers numerous health benefits and is among the well accepted green leafed vegetables that have very low calorie content. This vegetable is also a very rich resource of several important vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals as well as antioxidants that offer plenty of health benefits.
Similar to other vegetables belonging to the Brassica family, this green leafy vegetable also encloses specific antioxidant plant compounds, such as lutein, thiocyanates, zeaxanthin, indole-3-carbinol, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane. These compounds together with dietary fiber and vitamins work to protect us from various cancer forms, including those of the breast, prostate and colon, while assisting in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Freshly obtained bok choy is a wonderful resource of antioxidants soluble in water, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). In fact, 100 grams of fresh bok choy supplies us with roughly 45 mg or 75 per cent of our daily vitamin C requirement. Consuming vitamin C rich foods on a regular basis facilitates the body in reinforcing the body’s immunity against infections, while foraging detrimental and inflammation causing free radicals.
Compared to cabbage, cauliflower and similar vegetables, bok choy contains additional amounts of vitamin A, flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants as well as carotene. Only 100 grams of freshly obtained bok choy supplies us with 4468 IU (international units) or about 149 per cent of our daily vitamin A requirement levels.
Bok choy also contains sufficient amounts of vitamin K and supplies us with approximately 38 per cent of our daily requirement levels of this particular vitamin. It may be noted that vitamin A is said to have an important function in bone metabolism, as it encourages osteotrophic actions within the bone cells. Hence, incorporating sufficient amounts of vitamin K into our daily diet helps to make our bones stronger as well as withhold osteoporosis. In addition, it has been also proved that vitamin K plays a vital role in treating people with Alzheimer’s disease, as it restricts the damage of neurons inside their brain.
Besides the phytonutrients mentioned above, freshly obtained bok choy also encloses several important B-complex vitamins, for instance, riboflavin, pyridoxine (also known as vitamin B6), pantothenic acid (also known as vitamin B5) and thiamin (also called vitamin B1). All the vitamins mentioned here are necessary because our body continuously uses them and, hence, requires replenishments from external sources.
In addition, bok choy also provides us with reasonable amounts of various minerals, especially phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Potassium is a vital electrolyte within the cell as well as the body fluids, which aid in regulating blood pressure and the heart rate. Similarly, our body uses manganese in the form of a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Iron is necessary for the formation of red blood cells or erythrocytes.
Chinese cabbage or bok choy is very rich in vitamin D content. It may be noted here that vitamin D helps the body in assimilating calcium as well as phosphorus and, in this way, sustains the health of our bones and teeth. Bok choy also supplies us with adequate quantities of vitamin B6 and folate, which are primarily necessary for appropriate development of our cells and tissues. In addition, folate is related to diminished changes of developing heart diseases. Vitamin B6 contained by bok choy is vital for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fat, in addition to antibodies and red blood cell formation.
Apart from all the nutriments and vitamins mentioned above, bok choy is an excellent resource of several carotenoids, such as beta-carotene. All the carotenoids contained by Chinese cabbage possess antioxidant attributes and they are said to lessen the risks of developing several types of cancer. Several studies undertaken in this context have come to the conclusion that consuming foods having high beta-carotene content may possibly lessen the chances of certain cancer forms. In addition, carotenoids are also useful in alleviating problems related to the eye, for instance ocular degeneration and glaucoma.
Chinese cabbage is very nutritional and, at the same time, free of fat. It has very low sodium content and, hence, does not pose a threat of developing heart diseases. Elevated amount of sodium actually causes many heart ailments. Findings of several scientific studies have shown that there is a relation between consuming vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower, because all cruciferous vegetables lessen the chances of having different types of cancers. The main reason behind this is the fact that all these vegetables enclose a phytochemical known as glucosinolates, which transforms into isothiocyanates within our body. It is believed that isothiocyanates are effective in combating cancer as well as reinforcing our immune system. Therefore, this wholesome vegetable has the potential to defend us from several diseases, counting cancer, heart ailments, and muscular degeneration. In addition, these vegetables also provide us with vital nourishments that are needed by our body to perform the different essential functions to continue the life processes.
All cruciferous vegetables, including the Chinese cabbage or bok choy, effectively combat cancer. The more an individual incorporates cruciferous vegetables in his/ her diet, their chances of developing cancer diminishes more. Partially, this happens owing to the presence of glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables and also because they enclose a phytoalexin called brassinin.
Besides, bok choy contains plenty of a potent antioxidant known as beta-carotene. Several studies have shown that beta-carotene is highly useful in diminishing the risks of cancer. A number of people have also advocated that beta-carotenes may also annul some of the damages already caused by cancer in our body.
Precisely speaking, consumption of bok choy or Chinese cabbage is a superb means to get dietary fiber that is essential for properly digesting ingested foods. When any person consumed adequate amounts of dietary fiber, his body can employ the fiber to get rid of the waste products from his digestive tract. In fact, fiber is the bulk necessary for maintaining the relocation of all things from the intestines.
It is also believed that consumption of bok choy is also good for our eyesight, as this vegetable encloses beta-carotene, which is unbelievably beneficial for the health of the eyes. Bok choy prevents development of cataracts, macular degeneration and even glaucoma.
Just because bok choy contains elevated amounts of fiber and has a very low calorie content this vegetable is one of the most excellent accepted diet aids as far as losing weight or slimming is concerned. It also helps the body to avoid putting on additional weight. Even if you consume significant amounts of bok choy or Chinese cabbage daily it will not result in any noteworthy rise in calorie in your body. Most importantly, you can incorporate bok choy in nearly all kinds of meals. In fact, preparing and consuming a green smoothie including bok choy, strawberries and bananas together with other different fruits in the morning is an ideal way to ingest all the vital vitamins that you will require to sustain throughout the day – prior to the noon, when it is time for another meal.
Bok choy is also a beneficial food for women, especially during pregnancy. The main reason for this is that bok choy possesses the aptitude to fulfill all the requirements of a woman during pregnancy, as it comprises a healthy folic acid dose, which is extremely important to such women because it helps both during and after pregnancy. Nursing mothers will also find bok choy beneficial, as this vegetable is useful for augmenting breast milk production.
In addition, bok choy consumption improves the blood circulation and, at the same time, enhances the health as well as the functioning of the central nervous system. Consumption of each cup of cooked bok choy provides us with roughly 22 per cent of vitamin B6, 13 per cent potassium and 17 per cent foliate of your daily requirement of these nutriments. Vitamin B6 and foliate are both B-complex vitamins that facilitate the body to produce hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to the different organs and cells of our body. In addition, these B-complex vitamins also help in regulating the functioning of our central nervous system. Even potassium contained by bok choy ensures the health of the nervous system and also helps it to function normally. Potassium also neutralizes the amount of sodium we consume and stabilizes the blood pressure. In fact, consuming elevated amounts of sodium raises the blood pressure.
It has been found that bok choy contains a very high amount of vitamin C, which has a very vital role in our body. Vitamin C not only protects our body from the invasion of several diseases, such as scurvy, but also aids in making sure that the health of an individual’s skin is maintained appropriately. Vitamin C may also aid in getting rid of the harmful free radicals from our body, thereby protecting us from different ailments that invade us daily.
Bok choy contains sufficient amount of potassium, which also plays a vital role in protecting us from various heart diseases. Potassium also helps to control hypertension; in fact, it is useful in avoiding high blood pressure. At the same time, potassium contained by bok choy is also helpful in avoiding a rise in the blood sugar levels, thereby controlling diabetes. Additionally, potassium also works to ensure the mental well-being of a person by lessening the amount of stress as well as anxiety.
How to buy and store bok choy
When you are buying bok choy, it is important that you look for a few things in the vegetable. Ensure that the dark green leaves of this vegetable are fresh and glossy and their head is firm. Get rid of or do not purchase any bok choy, whose leaves have a pale color, are moldy or blemished, because these are indications of the fact that the vegetable has already started to rot.
Prior to cooking bok choy, you should rinse the leaves of the vegetable thoroughly, make them dry using paper towels and subsequently place them in plastic bags and store the bags in a fridge. This way you can keep the vegetable fresh for about five to six days.
Never buy bok choy that is cut from before, because their vitamin C content will be comparatively much less. You can purchase fresh bok choy from the stores at any time or the year and whenever you require the vegetable.
Bok choy is a very popular vegetable among Asians, especially those inhabiting China and Japan, and is used as an ingredient in several delicious cuisines, such as soups and fried dishes. You may enjoy this vegetable in several different forms, for instance, cut into a variety of thicknesses, or shredded, and chopped using a food processor. You can also cook bok choy in several different ways.