Bok choy may have a funny name, but it also has a wide range of health benefits, including its role in boosting the immune system, protecting the health of eyes, preventing chronic disease, increasing heart health, building strong bones, boosting circulation and speeding healing.
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What is Bok Choy?
While you may have only seen this vegetable on menus, it is one of the most nutrient-dense plants in the world, which is why it is such an important part of culinary traditions in various countries. Bok choy is also widely known as Chinese cabbage, but it can be found in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, where it is commonly grown. Unlike many other types of cabbage, bok choy does not form heads, but rather spreads a dense cluster of leaves, similar to mustard greens. These smooth dark green leaves are often used as salad greens and included in many different dishes, and can be found in most import stores and larger grocery stores in the western world. Bok choy is more than just common in Asian dishes; it is also an incredibly rich source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals in diets of Asian and European countries.
As mentioned, bok choy is among the top three nutritious plants in terms of nutrient density, and in a single 100-gram serving, bok choy contains only 13 calories, yet it supplies huge amounts of vitamin C, A, K and B6, as well as various other minerals and essential nutrients that can seriously affect human health. This dense vegetable has earned its place in the diet of many health-conscious people, and is often used as a replacement for spinach, collard greens and other cruciferous vegetables. The many health benefits of this imported vegetable have made it hugely popular in health circles, so let’s take a look at some of the healthy advantages that bok choy can provide.
Health Benefits of Bok Choy
Health benefits of bok choy include the following:
Improves Bone Strength
One of the most obvious benefits of bok choy is the impact that it can have on bone structure and mineral density. The combination of critical minerals, such as iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium found in bok choy can help to prevent osteoporosis and keep your bones stable and strong well into your advanced years. Furthermore, a high level of vitamin K is found in bok choy, and adequate levels of this oft-overlooked vitamin is associated with lower risks of bone fractures as you get older.
While iron has received some criticism in recent years when found in excess in the body, particularly in men, it is still a crucial part of the production of red blood cells. For those who may not get enough iron in their diet, adding bok choy can solve that problem very quickly. Adequate iron means proper circulation and oxygenation of key organ systems and extremities of the body.
Helps to Heal Faster
Vitamin K is a very important part of any diet, and is closely related to many areas of health, including bone strength and heart health, but in particular, it is known as a blood-clotting agent. For someone recovering from an injury or surgery, or experiencing excess bleeding, such as from hemorrhoids or unusually heavy menstruation, bok choy is an ideal remedy that can work very quickly.
Prevents Chronic Disease
Bok choy is like many other cabbages and cruciferous vegetables in that it possesses sulfur-based compounds that are directly linked to lower chances of developing cancer. These compounds act as antioxidants and eliminate free radicals before they have a chance to cause healthy cells to mutate or induce oxidative stress in tissues and organ systems.
One of the major vitamin components of bok choy is vitamin A, which is composed of various carotenoids, including beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Furthermore, vitamin A is closely associated with eye health, and the prevention of macular degeneration and oxidative stress in the retina. This means that adding a strange-sounding vegetable to your salads may just keep your vision in line for a few extra years!
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Some of the components found in bok choy, particularly folic acid and vitamin B-6, are directly linked to improving the strength of the heart. More specifically, these substances can reduce the level of homocysteine in the blood, which is a strong indicator of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues. Furthermore, some of the minerals found in bok choy are able to regulate the functioning of the heart, ensuring that blood pressure is appropriate, thus mitigating the risk of heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.
Boosts Immune System
There are quite a few vitamins found in bok choy, but vitamin C is among the best in terms of concentration. This immediately means that this vegetable can help to improve the functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C is not only able to stimulate the production of white blood cells, but it also acts as an antioxidant, preventing oxidative stress and chronic disease throughout the body. Vitamin C is also an important part of collagen, which is needed for healing and recovery, as well as in every cell of the body!
What many people don’t realize about vitamin C is the crucial role it plays in the production of collagen, and therefore the health and appearance of the skin. Every skin cell requires collagen to be formed, further accentuating how important ascorbic acid is in our diet. When it comes to bok choy, there is plenty of vitamin C to go around (33% of the daily recommended amount in a single serving), which means that it can definitely aid in the rejuvenation of your skin.
Lowers Blood Pressure
In a single cup of bok choy, there is roughly 20% of your daily recommended amount of potassium. This is very important for heart health, as potassium works as a vasodilator to relieve tension on blood vessels and thus lower strain on the cardiovascular system. Potassium is also a critical aspect of bone health, and water balance throughout the body.
Final Word of Warning
Due to the high levels of vitamin K found in bok choy, patients already taking blood-clotting medicine should speak to their doctor before adding this cruciferous vegetable to their diet. Also, when eaten in extreme amounts, raw bok choy could potentially have a negative effect on the thyroid function. However, cooking bok choy usually eliminates this danger.