Cultivated in China for centuries, bok choy has played a large part not only in the country’s cuisine, but in traditional Chinese medicine as well.1,2 Today, it’s a staple in both Asian and American recipes.
A deep green vegetable with leaves that resemble the top of a lettuce3 and a large celery on the bottom, bok choy is a crucifer that’s closely related to cabbage.4 The entire vegetable can be used, and is often added raw to salads for a satisfying crunch.5 If you wish to add it to soups, pick the larger varieties for the best results.6
Bok choy can also be stewed or braised, but the stir-fry approach seems to be the most popular way to cook it.7 When shredded, it makes great coleslaw.8 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 hardy amount 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.9 Vitamin A, for instance, is essential for a properly functioning immune system,10 while vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals.11 Potassium, on the other hand, is essential for healthy muscle and nerve function,12 and vitamin B6 for protein metabolism.13
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. For more information see the table below.14
Bok Choy Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw
|Calories from Fat
|Calcium 105 mg
Studies Done on Bok Choy
A study published in PLOS One noted that proteins in bok choy contain antioxidant properties.15 In a separate study, researchers noted that cruciferous vegetables like bok choy may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.16
A 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 help improve breast cancer survival. A study of nearly 5,000 Chinese breast cancer survivors revealed a 27% to 62% decrease in the risk of dying from the disease when they consumed more cruciferous vegetables, as well as a 35% lower risk of cancer recurrence.17
Bok Choy Healthy Recipes:
Stir-Fried Sesame Bok Choy
✓ 1 teaspoon coconut oil
✓ 2 garlic cloves, minced
✓ 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
✓ 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
✓ 1 1/2 pounds baby bok choy, carefully cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
✓ 1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
✓ 2 tablespoon naturally fermented soy sauce
✓ 1 teaspoon raw honey
✓ 1/2 teaspoon coconut flour
✓ 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Heat a large skillet or wok to medium-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 three minutes. Stir in the broth, soy sauce, honey and coconut flour; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Cook for one minute or until thickened.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
(Recipe adapted from Food18)
Bok Choy Fun Facts
The name “bok choy” originated from the Chinese word for "soup spoon" because of the shape of its leaves.19
As a Chinese food and medicinal 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 salads to 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.