Pak choi, pok choi, bok choy, or just Chinese cabbage, is a cabbage type. Pak choi, as the name suggests, comes from Asia, but it is now increasingly grown not only in China but in North America and northern Europe as well. Chinese cabbage likes cold and withstands harsh conditions, which other plants wouldn’t. This means there are no exceptional requirements when it comes to its cultivation – a fertile substrate and regular watering will do the job. Pak choi can be planted from seed directly into the ground. Interestingly, it only needs 50 days to reach its maximum size, i.e., around 30 cm.
Pak choi is a leafy green that is known for its exotic nature and unique, grassy flavor. It is a rich source of many valuable vitamins and healthy minerals that can positively influence our health. These include vitamins such as C, E, K, folates, and provitamin A (i.e., beta-carotene).
- Vitamin C: is beneficial to the immune system, has strong antioxidant properties, increases the absorption of iron from plant sources, and is necessary to synthesize collagen.
- Vitamin K: plays a significant role in bone clotting and formation of the bone tissue processes; it has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.
- Beta-carotene: has strong antioxidant properties and a beneficial effect on the eyesight organs, strengthens the immune system.
- Vitamin E: is one of the strongest antioxidants, which protects us against the development of oxidative stress. Thus, it reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Folates: participate in the synthesis of nucleic acids, are necessary for the proper functioning of the circulatory and nervous systems, participate in the process of red blood cell formation.
Vitamin C in pak choi increases the absorption of non-haem iron from plant products. This information is important for those who eliminate meat from their menu and obtain iron from plant sources. Due to its bone metabolism properties, vitamin K is recommended for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The folates present in pak choi play a vital role in the nutrition of women planning pregnancy (or already pregnant). Such valuable properties of the Chinese cabbage come from minerals, such as selenium, zinc, and calcium.
Selenium has strong antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, which is why it is recommended to prevent and treat cancer (including breast and prostate cancer).
Zinc: strengthens the immune system, has antioxidant properties, and is necessary to activate many enzymes.
Calcium: participates in bone tissue formation, is necessary for the proper functioning of many enzymes, ensures normal muscle contractility, and the proper functioning of the nervous system.
If you are trying to lose weight, pak choi should become your best friend – 100 g of pak choi has only 13 kcal. Even if you would like to eat a whole cabbage head, it will not disturb your diet. A pak choi head weighs an average of 220 g, which means it provides 29 kcal. Thanks to dietary fiber, the feeling of fullness after eating a meal containing pak choi, lasts longer. Additionally, the fiber helps to regulate blood glucose levels, prevents constipation, lowers the LDL cholesterol level (the so-called bad cholesterol), and reduces the risk of developing cancers (e.g. colon cancer).
Pak choi has wide culinary use and will enrich meals of various types of cuisine. Chinese cabbage has a fairly neutral flavor that mixes well with other ingredients. There are many healthy recipes with pak choi. You can add it to salads (e.g., with carrots and apples), poultry and fish meals (e.g., smoked salmon salad), and soups. However, if you want to eat a traditional Asian meal, cook pak choi with ginger, sesame oil, garlic, rice, and shiitake mushrooms. Enjoy!
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