Bok Choy Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Bok Choy annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman  

Bok choy, also called Chinese cabbage or pak choi, is a member of the Brassica cabbage family. As a dark, leafy, cruciferous vegetable, bok choy is highly nutritious. It's packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but is very low in calories and carbohydrates. It's easy to prepare and makes a tasty addition to soups, stir-fries, and other Asian-influenced dishes.

Bok Choy Nutrition Facts

The USDA provides the following nutrition information for 1 cup (70g) of raw, shredded bok choy.

  • Calories: 9.1
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 45.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.5g
  • Fiber: 0.7g
  • Sugars: 0.8g
  • Protein: 1.1g

Carbs

A cup of shredded raw bok choy has 1.5 grams of carbohydrate. The veggie provides 0.7 grams fiber and less than a gram of naturally-occurring sugar.

As with most non-starchy vegetables, the glycemic index of bok choy can't be determined by standard procedures, but eating bok choy is assumed to have very little effect on blood sugar. For 1 cup of raw bok choy, the glycemic load is 1. A glycemic load of less than 10 is considered to be low and should have little effect on blood glucose levels.

Fats

Like most vegetables, bok choy has a negligible amount of fat.

Protein

There is a small amount of protein in bok choy, about 1 gram per 1 cup serving, so it is not a significant source of this macronutrient.

Vitamins and Minerals

Bok choy is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. It is a very good source of folate, calcium, and vitamin B6 as well.

Health Benefits

Bok choy is a cruciferous, leafy green vegetable, so it's packed with nutritional compounds that may offer health-promoting properties.

Fights Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Like many fruits and vegetables, especially bright or dark-colored ones, bok choy contains antioxidants, which help the body fight inflammation and cell damage. In particular, bok choy and similar dark leafy greens, such as mustard greens, turnip greens, and Napa cabbage, are a good source of a flavonoid called quercetin.

Reduces Heart Disease Risk

A review study published in 2016 found an association between consumption of leafy green vegetables, including cruciferous veggies, and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Results showed an over 15% "reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease" in people who consumed more of these types of vegetables.

Contains Cancer-Fighting Compounds

Cruciferous vegetables also have anti-cancer properties. Various studies suggest that eating more of these green veggies can help protect against several types of cancer, including prostate, lung, breast, and colorectal cancers.

Low in FODMAPs

People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease may find relief from symptoms (such as pain, diarrhea, and constipation) when they consume a diet low in a type of carbohydrates called fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols, also known collectively as FODMAPs. Bok choy is permitted on a low-FODMAP diet.

Provides Non-Dairy Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral for strong bones and teeth. If you can't or prefer not to consume dairy, it's important to find other dietary sources of calcium, and bok choy fits the bill (along with other dark leafy greens, such as spinach).

Allergies

Bok choy allergies have not been reported in the medical literature. However, if you have hay fever due to mugwort pollen, you may experience oral allergy syndrome when consuming cabbage, broccoli, and related vegetables. Symptoms include itchiness or swelling around the mouth. Rarely, this can progress to anaphylaxis, so be aware of the symptoms of anaphylaxis and seek immediate treatment if you experience them.

Adverse Effects

Bok choy is rich in vitamin K (32mcg per 1 cup serving, or about one-third of the recommended daily intake for adult women). Since vitamin K helps regulate blood clotting, people who take some blood thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin), need to consume consistent amounts of vitamin K. But the right amount of dietary vitamin K intake varies. If you are taking blood thinners, discuss your diet with your doctor.

Bok choy also contains salicylates, compounds related to aspirin. If you are sensitive to aspirin, you may want to avoid foods containing salicylates. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about how to manage this sensitivity.

Varieties

There are several different varieties of bok choy, with color and size variations. But commonly, you'll just find bok choy sold in either regular or "baby" size.

When It's Best

Like other cabbages, bok choy is at its peak in winter. But it is typically available year-round. When choosing bok choy, look for vibrant, green blades accompanied by firm white stems that are a little moist. Bok choy leaves are similar in appearance to spinach and the stems look like celery but are more white than green.

Storage and Food Safety

Bok choy should be stored in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer in a loose or perforated plastic bag. It will last up to three to four days in the refrigerator. Don't wash until immediately before cooking. If frozen, it can last between 10 and 12 months.

How to Prepare

You can eat bok choy raw, but it cooks quickly and you can prepare it with several different methods, including steaming, stir-frying, braising, grilling, and stewing. A short cooking time will give you a crunchy result, while longer cooking yields a uniquely creamy texture. For a five-minute side dish or meal, ​sauté bok choy with chopped snow peas and mushrooms in a frying pan with a little oil and season to taste. Add pre-cooked chicken or tofu for protein.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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