Betting on Bok Choy

Bok choy is a Chinese vegetable that is also known as Chinese cabbage, bak choi, paak choi (literally, “white vegetable”), Chinese chard cabbage, Chinese mustard cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, petsai, white celery mustard and the scientific name, Brassica rapa chinensis. Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family, and it resembles celery with its thick white stalks and dark green leaves. Bok choy’s popularity comes from its light, sweet flavor, crisp texture and nutritional value. The stalks are crunchy, juicy and slightly sweet, without the stringiness of celery, while the crinkly green leaves taste more like traditional cabbage or Romaine lettuce.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for over 6,000 years, where it has been popular for centuries in all kinds of recipes, including soup, salads, stir fry, or for filling spring rolls, pot stickers, steamed buns and dumplings or in juice form for its medicinal purposes. In Chinese medicine, bok choy is thought to contain a slightly Yin energy that helps to balance the energy of the lungs, stomach, gall bladder, brain and kidneys as well as improving metabolism and healthy urination. After Spain conquered the Phillipines in the 16th century, large numbers of Chinese immigrated to the islands and brought bok choy with them. Bok choy made its way to Europe in the 18th or 19th century.

Today more than 20 varieties of bok choy exist in Asia. In modern China, bok choy is believed to have many medicinal qualities, including battling fever, inflammation, infections, and sore throat. Bok choy sometimes replaces cabbage in pancit, a Philippine noodle dish, and in kimchi, a Korean hot pickle made with garlic and red peppers. Bok choy or pak kwahng toong also appears in Thai recipes. Varieties are now grown in the United States and Canada. The most common varieties found in the United States are bok choy and baby bok choy, a smaller, more tender version. Bok choy is available year-round in supermarkets throughout North America, where people still associate it with Chinese cooking. Another member of the bok choy family is choy sum or bok choy sum. You may even find choy sum called bok choy sum hearts; the word sum in Cantonese literally means heart.

When selecting bok choy from the market, look for firm stalks without any brown discoloration. Make sure the leaves are crisp and not wilted. Bok choy can be stored in a sealed container for a week in your refrigerator.

Bok choy is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. Not only is bok choy high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and calcium, but it is low in calories. It also contains iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.  Bok choy has 28 different polyphenolsantioxidant phytochemicals. Some of these are more concentrated in the leaves, and some in the stems. The most abundant polyphenol in bok choy is kaempferol, a molecule with anti-cancer properties.  Sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables including bok choy, inhibits chronic inflammation, the root of many diseases. Sulforaphane also exhibits other anti-cancer and antimicrobial properties. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), metabolized from a substance called glucobrassicin, found in chopped raw or lightly steamed cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy, is an antioxidant, inhibits cancers of the breast, uterus, colon, lung, and liver, and can stimulate detoxification enzymes in your digestive tract and liver. Like all cruciferous vegetables, more cancer-preventive compounds are produced when bok choy is chopped before cooking.

Bok choy is uniquely beneficial for its calcium availability – bok choy is lower in oxalate, a substance that binds up calcium and prevents it from being absorbed, than most other leafy greens. About 54% of the calcium in bok choy can be absorbed by your body – compare this to 5% in spinach, a high oxalate vegetable, and 32% in milk. You can much more readily absorb calcium from bok choy than from dairy products.

Nutrients in 1 Cup Shredded Raw Bok Choy




vitamin A

7223 IUs


vitamin C

44.2 mg


vitamin K

57.8 mcg



631 mg



158 mg



69.7 mcg


vitamin B6

0.3 mg



0.2 mg



1.8 mg



1.7 g



0.1 mg



2.7 g



18.7 mg



49.3 mg



3.5 mcg



0.1 mg



0.7 mg



0.01 g



0.3 mg





Bok choy can be eaten raw in salads, green smoothies, or vegetable juices, or cooked in stir-fries, soups, or other dishes. Try featuring it in Braised Bok Choy.

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

13 thoughts on “Betting on Bok Choy

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