You’ve probably seen bok choy at your local grocery store, chilling between the cabbages and lettuces, lookin’ all… like a cross between cabbage and lettuce.
It’s a staple veggie in Chinese cuisine, and its mild flavor, satisfying crunch, and tender green leaves make it a great addition to any dish.
So knock if you bok, cause we’re about to dive into all the reasons we’re so keen on this cruciferous Chinese cabbage.
So, what’s bok choy?
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that has blessed the whole world with its tastiness. It has a very mild flavor, so it can be used in all kinds of cooking (although it really shines when paired with traditional East Asian flavors).
Bok choy can be large (much larger than the similar-looking napa cabbage), with thick, white bulbs serving as the base for bright green leaves. You can also buy baby bok choy, which are equal parts adorable and delicious.
Like other types of cabbage, bok choy is chock-full of nutrients and low in calories. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll get from a 1-cup serving of cooked bok choy:
|Vitamin C||44 mg (49% of the Daily Value)|
|Vitamin K||48 mg (48% of the DV)|
|Vitamin A||360 mcg RAE (retinol activity equivalents) (40% of the DV)|
|Folate||70 mcg DFE (dietary folate equivalents) (17% of the DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.3 mg (17% of the DV)|
|Potassium||631 mg (13% of the DV)|
|Calcium||158 mg (12% of the DV)|
|Manganese||0.2 mg (11% of the DV)|
|Iron||2 mg (10% of the DV)|
As you can see, bok choy is loaded with nutrients. And it contains smaller amounts of several others not listed above.
Here are a few of the benefits of bok choy (beyond its deliciousness, obvs).
Check that table one more time and note just how many nutrients a good cup of bok choy provides in significant amounts. It’s practically a multivitamin. OK, slight exaggeration, but still — it’s a nutrient powerhouse.
One cup of cooked bok choy has nearly half of your daily needs for vitamins C, A, and K. It contains a little vitamin E as well, so you can have your CAKE and eat it too.
In addition, bok choy contains compounds called polyphenols (aka plant chemicals), which — while not essential nutrients — do provide some health benefits.
It’s rich in one particular polyphenol called quercetin, which may help improve blood pressure and epithelial health — the health of the lining of your blood vessels (super important!).
Bok choy also contains a fair bit of fiber, which accounts for about two-thirds of the carbs in the veggie.
We all know fiber can help you poop more easily (and that’s reason enough to make sure you’re getting plenty), but it’s got 💩-loads of other benefits too.
Fiber is a prebiotic — a food source for the healthy bacteria that live in your gut. Fiber helps them eat well so they can live their best bacterial lives, and in turn they do all sorts of cool stuff like help regulate your blood sugar levels, weight, hunger hormones, and even serotonin (“happy hormone”) production.
Adequate fiber intake is also linked to weight loss and weight maintenance, along with reduced heart disease risk. So go on… fiber it up!
Low in calories and carbs
Finally, bok choy is low in both calories and carbs. So if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s perf, no matter if you’re doing keto or counting calories. A whole cup of bok choy is a non-insignificant amount of food (especially when cooked), and for only 20 calories and 1 net carb, it can’t be beat.
It’s a great way to add lots of volume to your diet, which helps fill you up (and of course provides tons of nutrients) without adding a lot of calories. And staying full makes it much easier to find weight loss success.
Bok choy is, of course, perfect in Asian dishes like stir-fries or shredded to use as dumpling filling, but its mild flavor makes it a great sub for regular cabbage in all kinds of recipes. Here’s some bok choy inspo for ya:
- Stir-fries. To keep it traditional, stir-fry bok choy by itself or alongside other ingredients. Season it with bold Asian flavors like ginger, garlic, sesame, and soy sauce. To make it a meal, add a protein like chicken or tofu and serve over rice or noodles.
- Soups. Bok choy is a perfect addition to soups and can shine in any soup that would benefit from a few handfuls of greens.
- Side dishes. For a side dish, you can braise, steam, or sauté bok choy with any flavor combo your heart desires. It’s super mild-flavored (more so than regular cabbage, in our humble opinion), so it’s a perfect veggie side to add some variety to your standard fare.
- Salads. Bok choy can also be eaten raw and makes a mean salad. The white part can be a little stringy, crisp, and fibrous (esp when raw), so if that cramps your salad style, stick to the green parts.
Like its cousins broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, bok choy is a cruciferous veggie.
These veggies are notorious for causing gas and bloating, and some people are more sensitive to the cruciferous curse than others.
If cabbage gives you the walking farts, you may want to limit your bok choy consumption (or at least plan accordingly).
Additionally, bok choy — like other green leafy veggies — contains lots of vitamin K. This presents absolutely no issue for most people, but it can cause problems if you’re on a blood-thinning medication like warfarin or coumadin, because vitamin K promotes blood clotting.
The general rule if you’re on blood thinners is to keep your vitamin K intake consistent from day to day. So don’t go nomming on a bunch of bok choy if you don’t usually eat high vitamin K foods.
If you’re on a blood thinner, it’s definitely best to get the OK from your doctor before putting some bok in your wok.
Bok choy is a Chinese cabbage with a mild flavor that makes it perf for all kinds of dishes. It’s also low in calories and carbs, rich in fiber, and full of nutrients.
Be warned, though: It’s a cruciferous veggie, so it can bring the gas, and you may need to limit it if you’re on blood thinners. Regardless, bok choy is a tasty and nutritious way to mix up your veggie routine.