As an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), and manganese, and a good source of zinc, bok choy provides us with a concentration of these core conventional antioxidants. Yet, its antioxidant support extends beyond these conventional antioxidants to a wide range of other phytonutrient antioxidants. These phytonutrients include flavonoids like quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin, as well as numerous phenolic acids (including significant amounts of hydroxycinnamic acids). It’s important to understand the unique benefits provided by this diverse array of antioxidants. Different types of antioxidants function in different ways. While all types are helpful in preventing unwanted oxygen damage to our cells and body systems, different types of antioxidants go about this task in different ways, and it is the combination of these types in cruciferous vegetables—including bok choy—that make them so valuable in terms of their antioxidant support. (It is also a key reason why whole, natural foods like fresh bok choy provide you with benefits that antioxidant supplements cannot.)
Many of the antioxidant nutrients listed above also provide anti-inflammatory benefits. They not only lower the risk of oxygen-based damage to your cells and body systems, but they also lower your risk of unwanted chronic inflammation. While it is a good thing for your body’s inflammatory system to respond promptly to dangers or actual damage, it is not a good thing for it to continuously trigger inflammatory responses when there is not danger or actual damage. Anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in bok choy help prevent this type of continuous and unwanted inflammation from occurring. Yet in addition to these phytonutrients, bok choy also provides you with two additional anti-inflammatory nutrients. The first of these nutrients are omega-3s. Bok choy ranks as a good source of omega-3s in our rating system due to its significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). About 70 milligrams of ALA are found in one cup of cooked bok choy. While this amount does not put bok choy anywhere close to the top of our omega-3 plant vegetable list, it does qualify bok choy as being about one-half as concentrated in omega-3s as walnuts on a calorie-for-calorie basis. We have yet to see research on bok choy’s omega-3 content and inflammation, but we would expect this kind of research to show bok choy omega-3s as being helpful in lowering risk of unwanted inflammation.
Another anti-inflammatory nutrient provided by bok choy is vitamin K. Bok choy ranks in our Top 15 vitamin K-rich foods and is an excellent source of this fat-soluble vitamin. While best know for its role in bone health and blood clotting, vitamin K has also been shown to help regulate our body’s inflammatory responses, especially in relationship to our cardiovascular system.
Other Health Benefits
Bok choy has been included in human studies of cruciferous vegetables that have shown decreasing risk of certain cancers when these vegetables were consumed on a frequent basis, usually involving one or more daily servings. At least part of this protection has been associated with the glucosinolate content of the cruciferous vegetables, including bok choy. (Glucosinolates are unique sulfur-containing compounds that have been shown to have cancer-protective properties.) However, we have yet to see a study exclusively focused on bok choy in comparison to its fellow cruciferous vegetables, and we suspect that it would rank on the lower end in terms of its glucosinolate-related benefits since it contains a significantly lower amount of these sulfur-containing compounds than other vegetables in the cruciferous family like Brussels sprouts or mustard greens.
What are some of the health benefits provided by bok choy?