Bok Choy: The Asian Contribution To Your Health And Happiness!

Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health Swathi Handoo MSc (Biotechnology), Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health Experience: 4 years
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There is something about Asian cuisine. It’s one cuisine I can never get tired of – because it has so much to offer! One weekend, I had a green side dish with my ramen bowl that transported me to another world.

That side dish was made of Bok choy. Though it was a simple stir-fry, it tasted rich and delicious. Besides having an amazing texture, bok choy is filled with micro and macronutrients that keep cancers at bay.

In this article, I’ve put together some facts, science, and surprises about bok choy. Excited? Read on!

What Is Bok Choy?

Bok choy (Brassica rapa chinensis) is a dark green leafy vegetable that looks like a cross between celery stalks and Swiss chard leaves. Commonly, there are two variants – the one with white stalks, and the one with green stalks.

Bok choy is also known as pak choi, Chinese chard, Chinese mustard, and Chinese white cabbage and is extensively used in Asian cooking.

The whole plant can be eaten raw or cooked. It tastes a little bitter like mustard greens but is much milder and crunchier.

Coming to nativity, bok choy is East Asia’s dear child. It is widely grown and consumed in China, Japan, and South-east Asian countries. In the Americas, it is grown in California, Hawaii, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey.

Bok choy needs a cold climate and tender sunlight to grow. Hot climates cause the crop to bolt into flowers. You can harvest the crop within two months of planting, provided it is well taken care of (1).

On a lighter note, let me ask you this – why do you think Asians love bok choy so much that they put it in almost every dish?

Of course, it has the taste and crunch every dish needs. Couldn’t it be something to do with its nutritional value? Well, yes.

Bok choy is a treasure chest of nutrients. With its powerful phytochemical profile, it has a lot to offer to your body and health.

Want to know what it does to your body? Scroll down!

What Are The Benefits Of Bok Choy?

1. Strengthens Bones

A reservoir of vitamin A, vitamin K, and calcium, bok choy is your bones’ best friend (soulmate, if you are lactose intolerant). Your calcium requirement hits 1000 mg/day once you hit 30. As you inch towards your 70s, you need about 1200 mg of calcium per day!

Eating bok choy, collard greens, broccoli, almonds, sesame seeds, napa cabbage, tofu, and other calcium-rich foods can prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis in post-menopausal women.

Bok choy contains high levels of folate too. Having it in generous amounts during your pregnancy can protect your baby from congenital bone diseases (2).

2. Promotes Healthy Vision

One cup of raw bok choy has 3128 IU of vitamin A, 1877 mcg of β-carotene, and 28 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin. This makes it the perfect food for your eyes.

Carotenoids and phytosterols are precursors of vitamin A (retinol). This vitamin is responsible for maintaining your vision and protecting your eyes from age-related eye diseases like cataract and macular degeneration.

Lutein, zeaxanthin, β-carotene, and sterols are all potent antioxidants. They can prevent cancers like glaucoma and retinoblastoma (3).

3. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the key factors behind life-threatening, chronic, and acute conditions. Coronary heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes mellitus, colitis, GERD, ulcers, and irritable bowel disease are a few examples of such conditions.

Adding cruciferous veggies like bok choy to your diet is highly recommended because they contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.

The main anti-inflammatory compounds in bok choy are glucosinolates, followed flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids, and vitamins (4). This is why bok choy finds its place in anti-inflammatory diet charts.

4. Prevents Cancer

Research claims that bok choy and other members of the Brassicaceae family can prevent cancers and aid recovery.

Bok choy contains vitamins A, C, K, and B, carotenoids, anthocyanins, omega-3-fatty acids, and glucosinolates that can convert DNA-damaging and cancer-causing agents into harmless intermediates (5).

There is a lot of statistical and scientific evidence that proves the anticancer activity of bok choy against cancers of prostate, breast, and colon (4).

Bok Choy Trivia!

  • Bok choy is also referred to as ‘soup spoon’ because of its shape.
  • Bok choy has high levels of antioxidants, choline, and folate. Thus, it protects your brain from neurodegenerative diseases.
  • In cities like Singapore, where open land or space is a constraint, bok choy is grown on vertically stacked farms. Think of it like growing it in an apartment complex!
  • Like its relatives, bok choy has antidiabetic and antihypertensive properties.

I’ve mentioned multiple times that bok choy is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and K, calcium, and phosphorus. But you must be wondering, in what quantities?

Move on to the next section to find out the nutritional profile of bok choy.

What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Bok Choy?

Nutrition Facts Serving Size 70 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 9Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0 g0%
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 46mg2%
Total Carbohydrate 2g1%
Dietary Fiber 1g3%
Sugars 1g
Protien 1g
Vitamin A63%
Vitamin C52%
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Total Carbohydrate1.5 g1%
Dietary Fiber0.7 g3%
Starch0.0 g
Sugars0.8 g
Fats & Fatty Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Total Fat0.1 g0%
Saturated Fat0.0 g0%
Monounsaturated Fat0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat0.1 g
Total trans fatty acids~
Total trans-monoenoic fatty acids~
Total trans-polyenoic fatty acids~
Total Omega-3 fatty acids38.5 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids29.4 mg
Protein & Amino Acids
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Protein1.0 g2%
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Vitamin A3128 IU63%
Retinol0.0 mcg
Retinol Activity Equivalent156 mcg
Alpha Carotene0.7 mcg
Beta Carotene1877 mcg
Beta Cryptoxanthin0.0 mcg
Lycopene0.0 mcg
Lutein+Zeaxanthin28.0 mcg
Vitamin C31.5mg152%
Vitamin D~~
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)~
Beta Tocopherol0.1 mg0%
Gamma Tocopherol~
Delta Tocopherol~0%
Vitamin K31.8 mcg40%
Thiamin0.0 mg2%
Riboflavin0.0 mg3%
Niacin0.3 mg2%
Vitamin B60.1 mg7%
Folate46.2 mcg12%
Food Folate46.2 mcg
Folic Acid0.0mcg
Dietary Folate Equivalents46.2 mcg
Vitamin B120.0 mcg0%
Pantothenic Acid0.1 mg1%
Choline4.5 mg
Betaine0.2 mg
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calcium73.5 mg7%
Iron0.6 mg3%
Magnesium13.3 mg3%
Phosphorus25.9 mg3%
Potassium176 mg5%
Sodium45.5 mg2%
Zinc0.1 mg1%
Copper0.0 mg1%
Manganese0.1 mg6%
Selenium0.3 mcg0%

Very impressive, isn’t it?

The phytochemicals enhance bok choy’s rich nutritional profile. This is why it is used in almost every dish in Asian cuisine.

Do you want to try cooking a dish or two with bok choy?

I kind of read your mind and collected a couple of delicious recipes. They won’t take much time because bok choy cooks very quickly.

Excited? Let’s get to the kitchen, then!

What Can You Cook With Bok Choy?

1. Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Bok Choy Stir-Fry
Image: Shutterstock
What You Need
  • Vegetable oil: 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic: 2 cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • Baby bok choy: 8-9 heads (trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Skillet or a wok: medium-large sized
Let’s Make It!
  1. In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic to the hot oil and cook until fragrant. This takes about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the baby bok choy to the fried garlic and cook until the leaves turn dark green, and the stalks become slightly translucent.
  4. Sprinkle some salt.
  5. Stir and toss continuously for about 5 to 8 minutes to cook the greens uniformly.
  6. Serve hot (with some sesame seeds sprinkled on top) alongside pork or beef chops, or have it as is with red hot chili sauce.

2. Rich-n-Spicy Bok Choy-Chicken Soup

What You Need
  • Chicken broth: 4 cups
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Onion: ¼ cup (finely chopped)
  • Jalapenos: 1 small (seeded and minced)
  • Ginger root: 1-inch piece (fresh and finely chopped)
  • Garlic: 2 cloves
  • Chicken breasts: 1 pound (boneless and skinless)
  • Bok choy: 1-2 heads (chopped)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Soup pot: medium-large size
Let’s Make It!
  1. In a large pot, add the chicken broth, water, onion, jalapeno, ginger, and garlic. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Add the chicken breasts and cook until they are no longer pink in the center [an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165°F (74°C)]. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot.
  4. Let them cool down until you can handle them easily.
  5. Shred the chicken coarsely and put it back into the pot.
  6. Add the bok choy and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally. This takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Season the soup with salt.
  8. Serve hot with warm breadsticks or rice fritters.

Bok choy can change the fate of a dish with its delicate texture and earthy flavors. This is probably why people like to eat it raw, half-cooked, and boiled.

But, one big question remains – is it alright to add bok choy in every meal of the day? Keep reading to find out.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Bok Choy?

The answer is partly yes. Most cruciferous veggies offer a host of benefits. Hardly any research has been done to study their side effects. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Bok choy contains indoles. This group of phytochemicals, along with high nitrites and nitrates, is said to have anticancer properties.

However, long-term consumption of such leaves, along with carcinogens (such as pesticides, chemicals, and synthetic growth stimulators), can trigger cancers.

Indoles prevent the conversion of carcinogenic molecules into harmless derivatives, thus boosting cancers (especially of the thyroid) (6).

  • If you are allergic to cabbage, broccoli, collards, or kale, you could be allergic to bok choy too.

Consult a doctor or a dietitian to manage your dosage or find a suitable replacement for bok choy.

In general, if you don’t like the taste and texture of bok choy in your food, you can replace it with spinach, napa cabbage, Swiss chard, or celery. But you’d miss the oriental touch!

How To Grow Bok Choy At Home?

It is fuss-free and just takes a couple of months. Let’s check it out:

  1. Buy the seeds from your local market or here.
  2. Plant the seeds shallowly (¼-½ inch deep) in the garden in July. Plant in mid-summer so that the plants mature in the shortening days and cooler temperatures of September.
  3. Keep the soil moist during seedling emergence.
  4. Take good care of the seedlings as they are vulnerable to extreme heat, wind, drought, and insects.
  5. Water them as needed. Do not use fresh manure as it could contain harmful bacteria.
  6. Harvest bok choy a few leaves at a time rather than waiting for the whole head to mature.
  7. Pick the oldest, largest leaves from the outside of the plant. Younger leaves will continue to grow for later harvest.
  8. Most gardeners wait for the head to reach its mature size. For dwarf varieties, this may be only 6 inches tall. Full-sized varieties can grow a foot tall.
  9. Cut the head while the oldest leaves are tender. Bok choy will not hold its quality if left in the garden for a long time.
  10. If bok choy plants begin to bolt, the leaves will not grow anymore. Harvest the entire plant before the flowers bloom, and use the flower stalk as you would use broccoli (7).


Bok choy is a highly nutritious cruciferous vegetable. It is a storehouse of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, choline, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and iron.

The low-cal Chinese cabbage also has abundant carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, β-carotene, along with essential steroidal precursors.

Including it in your daily meals in advised portions can help you gain a strong body, improve your vision, and build stronger immunity against cancers.

If you are impressed by this Asian beauty, get some fresh heads home this weekend. Try out the recipes I’ve shared here or toss it into your brunch salad – it tastes amazing either way.

Write to us your bok choy experiences in the comments section below.

Bring home some health and joy with bok choy!


Articles on thebridalbox are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Bok Choy” Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, USDA
  2. Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Guide for…” NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, National Institutes of Health
  3. Vegetables and Fruits” The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health
  4. Glucosinolates from pak choi and broccoli…” Food & function, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Brassica vegetables and prostate cancer risk…” Nutrition and Cancer, US National Library of Medicine
  6. Cruciferous vegetables and Human Cancer risk…” Pharmacological research, US National Library of Medicine
  7. Growing Chinese cabbage and bok choy…” Vegetables, University of Minnesota Extension
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Swathi Handoo
Swathi HandooHealth & Wellness Writer
Swathi holds a master’s degree in biotechnology from Osmania University and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. She has four years of experience and a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University.

Read full bio of Swathi Handoo
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