Most Indians would probably stare at you blankly if you ask them about Bok choy. This is still a very unknown vegetable to Indians except for maybe a certain niche section of the society. But it’s time to change all that! Let’s meet this Asian cousin of the cabbage family.
Bok choy or pak choi falls under the cruciferous family of vegetables along with kale, cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and turnips. Also known as the Chinese cabbage, the vegetable derives its name from the Cantonese language. This is slightly different from the Napa cabbage that is used to make kimchi.
100 gm of raw, shredded Bok Choy contains:
9.1 Total calories
0.1 g of total Fat
45.5mg of sodiumSodium
1.5 g of carbohydrates
0.7g of dietary Fibre
0.8 g of sugar
1.1 g of Protein
As you can see, Bok Choy is a low-calorie food that is very good for weight management as well as for your overall health.
Similar to most vegetables, the total fat content in Bok Choy is negligible (0.7g per 100 g)
A cup of shredded Bok Choy contains about 1.5 grams of carbohydrate along with 0.7 g dietary fibre and a mere 0.8g of natural sugar. The glycemic index of bok choy is 1. So, diabetic patients and expecting mothers with diabetes can easily include Bok Choy in their diet without any worry.
Bok Choy has a minimal amount of protein and therefore cannot be considered as a good source of this essential macronutrient. However, you can always pair this up with shredded chicken breast with soy sauce, red chilli paste and pepper stir-fried in vegetable oil. You can never go wrong with this combination!
On the other hand, the high amount of dietary fibres helps boost your metabolism and digestion. This prevents constipation and provides relief to pregnant women.
Apart from these, Bok Choy is packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is a really good source of Vitamins A, C, E, K as well as vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. In addition, several minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium and folate are also found in bok choy.
The many health benefits of bok choy for kids and adults:
Bok choy is an excellent source of beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A (Retinol) in our body. This helps promote good vision and improves your immune system. This also helps boost your skin texture.
It contains the natural antioxidant Vitamin C as well as Vitamin E that helps fight the free radicals. This minimizes the risk of inflammation and cell damage to your skin due to exposure to sun and pollution. It boosts your body’s natural collagen production and helps fight signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. Bok choy is very frequently eaten by East Asian communities for this purpose.
Vitamin D present in bok choy helps in calcium homeostasis i.e. it helps in calcium absorption from the intestine thus helping in the maintenance of bone health.
Bok choy is rich in folate and Vitamin B6 that helps in removing homocysteine from your blood. Too much homocysteine in the blood can damage the blood vessels and increase the chance of heart diseases.
Vitamins B1 and B2 increase cellular production and constantly repairs and maintains the nervous system.
Folate is an extremely important mineral for the growth of the baby. It is especially recommended for pregnant women. Moreover, it helps to maintain a healthy heart, along with Vitamin B6 and potassium.
Bok choy is a good source of calcium for people who are allergic to dairy and dairy products.
Selenium helps to boost your immune system enabling resistance against harmful bacteria and viruses.
Benefits of consuming bok choy during pregnancy
Bok choy is a nutritional powerhouse. 1 cup of shredded bok choy contains a mere 0.8 g of natural sugar. The low glycemic index(1) of bok choy makes it ideal for expecting women who are diabetic or have developed gestational diabetes.
The high amount of dietary fibre helps improve bowel function and metabolism both of which remain stunted during pregnancy. This will help you get rid of constipation.
Bok choy is a good source of folate which is extremely essential for the baby’s brain development and overall growth. It helps by minimizing any neural tube defects during the baby’s development. It also helps to maintain heart health.
During pregnancy strong bones are needed to bear all the extra weight. Vitamin D rich bok choy helps in better absorption of calcium and thus keep bones strong and healthy. It also helps in the development of teeth and bones in the baby.
During pregnancy your body is under a lot of stress. As a result, the mother's immune system might become weak. Selenium and VitA both help in boosting the immune system to protect against infections.
Risks of consuming bok choy during pregnancy
Bok choy is no doubt very good for pregnancy meals. However a few things need to be kept in mind while consuming this vegetable:
DO NOT eat raw bok choy in large amounts. This might hinder your thyroid function and obstruct iodine absorption. It is always a good option to give cooked bok choy to kids and children.
If you are taking blood-thinning medications like Coumadin or Warfarin should limit the amount of bok choy consumption. Bok choy has large amounts of Vitamin K that can lead to blood clotting in such individuals.
Bok choy contains salicylates- compounds that are related to aspirin. Therefore, those with aspirin sensitivity should avoid bok choy.
Tasty ways to include bok choy in your diet
You can enjoy bok choy raw, stir-fried, steamed or grilled. You can use them in stews and other Asian curries. You can enjoy the crunchy texture when you put it in salads. Enjoy the creamy texture of bok choy by putting it in stews. Include this leafy green in your baby’s diet by making a puree out of chicken breast and bok choy.
Here’s a simple bok choy recipe to start you off
Bok-choy Chicken soup
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 clove chopped garlic
10 bok choy leaves, thinly sliced
How to prepare:
Gather all ingredients and bring your chicken broth to a boil in a medium-size saucepan
While the soup is boiling, add in red pepper flakes, soy sauce, sesame oil and chopped garlic
Add the bok choy leaves and simmer for 10 minutes
Cook until the leaves are tender and turn dark green
Serve in a soup bowl
(Recipe from https://www.thespruceeats.com/bok-choy-chicken-soup-694299)
You can stir-fry the boiled chicken with bok-choy and garlic along with your favourite seasonings. The options are endless!
Some Fun facts:
Bok choy can remain fresh in your refrigerator for up to 6 days!
Want to add bok choy to your kitchen garden? Then it might be good to know that it takes approximately 2 months for this veggie to be harvested and is best suited for mild weather.
Bok choy is also called “soup spoon” because of the leaves which are shaped like spoons for soup.
Though still largely unknown to the general Indian public, bok choy has already found a niche of Indian diaspora who love the flavour it brings to Asian dishes. A distant cousin of Palak(spinach), bok choy can enhance your regular homemade Asian delicacies. Besides, it’s packed with nutrients just like any other leafy greens. When you visit the supermarket next time, get your hands on some bok choy and elevate your taste buds.