Benefits of Bok Choy
One cup of bok choy has just nine calories and provides protein, dietary fiber and almost all the essential vitamins and minerals you need. This Chinese cabbage is a nutrient-dense food that offers several health benefits. Here are my top four:
One cup of shredded bok choy has 34 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and more than a full day’s intake of vitamin A. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant in the body, protecting cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals, or unstable molecules that result from vital chemical processes. Bok choy contains lutein and zeaxanthin too, which are antioxidants that protect the eyes and lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
2. Strong Bones
In addition to calcium, you need magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K to build and maintain strong bones. One cup of shredded bok choy delivers at least 3 percent of the recommended daily intake of magnesium and phosphorus, 7 percent of calcium and 26 percent of vitamin K.
3. Heart Health
One cup of bok choy provides 11 percent of the recommended daily intake of both folate and vitamin B-6. Folate and vitamin B-6 remove the amino acid homocysteine from the blood. This is important because high levels of homocysteine increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also has 4 percent of the daily value of potassium, which regulates the heartbeat. The calcium and magnesium essential for bones also play a role in maintaining a healthy heart. Calcium stimulates heart muscles to contract, while magnesium encourages them to relax.
4. Cancer Protection
Bok choy has unique sulfur-containing compounds that may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, lung and digestive tract cancers. These substances may help the body eliminate carcinogens, prevent cells from turning into cancer or alter metabolism to stop the development of hormone-sensitive cancers. One cup of chopped bok choy has 38 milligrams of glucosinolates.
Here’s a quick stir-fry recipe has spicy bold flavor and is an easy side dish to perk up most any meal, while giving you all the benefits that bok choy provide.
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
4 heads baby bok choy, about 1 lb. total
1 1/2 Tbs. canola oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 tsp. Asian chili oil
In a dry small fry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Cut off the tough base from each head of bok choy. Separate the heads into individual stalks by snapping the stalks away from their cores.
In a wok or a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. When it is hot and shimmering in the pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, tossing and stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the bok choy and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing and stirring, until the bok choy just begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bok choy is just tender and the broth evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chili oil, stir well to coat the bok choy and remove from the heat.
Stir in the sesame seeds, transfer the bok choy to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).