Pak choi or bok choy: benefits, uses and recommendations

Pak choi, bok choy, Chinese cabbage or boksoi. These are some of the names under which a plant of the cabbage family hides. Do you know her?

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on September 04, 2021.

Last update: 04 September, 2021

The pak choi It is one of the oldest vegetables in Chinese cuisine. And today it is expanding all over the world to enjoy its flavor and all its properties.

Nevertheless, is still unknown to many consumers. So if you want to know what it is, how to prepare it and how its consumption can benefit you, we encourage you to continue reading the article.

A green leafy plant of the cabbage family

Chinese cabbageBrassica rapa chinensis) is a plant belonging to the cruciferous group. It is grown in China, Korea and other Asian countries. But with its gastronomic expansion, in recent years its production has spread to Europe and America.

Although it shares a family with cabbage, broccoli or turnip, it actually looks more like chard. Unlike the rest of Chinese cabbages, it has smooth, open leaves and an intense green color.

In the kitchen it stands out for its smooth and pleasant flavor. They can be tasted both raw and cooked. It pairs well with multiple ingredients and dressings.

You can enjoy them in a wide variety of dishes, such as woks, soups or stir-fries, both oriental and more western inspired. A perfect way to introduce a greater variety of vegetables into your diet.



Nutritional composition of pak choi

Both cruciferous and green leafy vegetables are very nutritious foods, such as bok choy. Although have a large proportion of water and they are light, they come loaded with a great number of vitamins and minerals.

These are the macronutrients present in 100 grams of raw fresh product:

  • Energy: 13 kilocalories.
  • Water: 95.3 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 2.18 grams.
  • Proteins: 1.5 grams.
  • Lipids: 0.2 grams.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.

Besides, they provide good amounts of calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium. As for vitamins, the presence of vitamin C, K, A and folates stands out.

This oriental vegetable is already available in various markets in Europe and America.

Health benefits of pak choi

Adding Chinese cabbage to your daily diet is a good idea. Thanks to the vitamins, fiber and other nutrients it contains, it is also a good bet to take care of health.

Cardiovascular health

The prevention of diseases of the cardiovascular system is one of the main benefits derived from the regular consumption of vegetables and fruits. The dietary guidelines point out the importance of an abundant intake of these products. As noted in the 2013 Australian Guidelines, this reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

Antioxidant

In Chinese cabbage there are numerous antioxidant components, among which vitamin C stands out. These molecules have the ability to protect the body against the action of free radicals.

In recent years, numerous studies indicate that its lack of control can lead to a situation of oxidative stress. And this has been related to the appearance of some chronic diseases and premature aging.

Anti-inflammatory effect

Inflammation is a normal response of the immune system to damage in the body. Nevertheless, its chronification can lead to the appearance of a wide range of diseases, such as Alzheimer's, atherosclerosis, and arthritis, among others.

The main way to slow down this process is through the use of medications. But there are also some phytochemicals present in plants and foods with this capacity, among which phenolic compounds, abundant in crucifers, stand out.

The pack choi in cancer prevention

The relationship between diet and this disease has aroused the interest of scientists. In the last decades, the results have led to the conclusion that the consumption of phytochemicals can reduce the incidence of cancer.

Specific, broccoli and other crucifers have been associated with a lower incidence of cancer lung, breast, prostate and colon. The protective effects are due to glucosinolates, which are also present in the pak choi.

Bone development

Some minerals found in Chinese cabbage are necessary for proper bone growth. These are calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.



Possible risks of consuming pak choi

Intake of bok choy is safe and suitable for all people in all circumstances. But although it has health benefits, a high intake can cause unwanted effects.

In its raw form it is not recommended for people with thyroid problems. At pak choi and other cruciferous vegetables, an enzyme called myrosinase. This has the function of degrading glucosinolates.

Once in the body, glucosinolates produce other molecules that can make it difficult to absorb important nutrients, such as iodine. And this has a fundamental role in normal thyroid function. The negative effects have occurred rarely and always after a very high intake for a long period of time.

In addition, due to the presence of vitamin K, it is not advisable to abuse them when taking anticoagulant medications. The best recommendation is to always consult your doctor to resolve any doubts in this regard.

How to integrate it into the daily diet

When faced with a new product, there are always some doubts about how it is better to cook it and what dishes can be prepared with it. But there is no need to worry as make recipes with bok choy has no difficulty.

Before starting, all the leaves and stalks must be thoroughly washed. Both parts are edible, although it is in the leaves where much of its nutrients are concentrated. The thicker end stem is a bit tough and can be discarded.

In traditional Chinese cuisine the most common recipes are soups, woks and steamed dishes. They are often accompanied by soy sauce, tofu, sesame seeds and other seasonings and spices.

But to introduce it into the usual diet there are endless possibilities: vegetable creams, stir-fries, salads, vegetable stews or omelettes. In addition, boiled or steamed they are an ideal accompaniment to meat, fish or tofu.

If you lack inspiration or ideas to serve it, the easiest thing to start is to use it as a substitute for chard or spinach. However, it is interesting to know that to get the most out of its flavor and texture, it is best to cook it for a short time.

The wok allows you to combine vegetables in a simple way.

Diversify your vegetable consumption with Pak Choi

Same as him bimi or cabbage kale, the pak choi It is another of the Asian foods that have become common in the kitchens of many countries. Its presence in the diet is not a fad, since it is a very nutritious product.

However, sometimes it is better to be careful with your intake. For this reason, the best recommendation is to have a varied diet that provides a large number of different foods and nutrients.

In addition, the bok choy It can be offered multiple times and is suitable for everyone. It is even valid in the case of following diets low in FODMAPs and reduced in carbohydrates.

So if you are curious, you have it very easy. Today it is found in many establishments. Let your imagination fly and go try them!