Thursday, September 04, 2014

Chinese Cabbage is a superfood....

Thursday, 9-4-2014

I once got an email that had a list of the most nutritious vegetables.

I knew that Kale tended to be ranked number one in most systems.  And, I knew that other commonly available cruciferous vegetables did too with the HUGE bonus that each of them has multiple cancer preventing compounds!

These include collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, horseradish, wasabi, & water cress.

But, although I’ve seen it for years and years in the store, I’d not thought of including Chinese Cabbage, aka Napa Cabbage and Bok Choy in that list even though it is a cruciferous vegetable too.

1.  And, that email listed Chinese cabbage as number 3 most nutritious overall behind only Kale and Watercress!

2.  So, when I got a Medical News Today article on the health benefits of Chinese Cabbage, I thought I’d save it and post on it. [We will also start eating it often!]

3.  First here’s an article and an ANDI list that ranks Chinese Cabbage very high but not quite that high.

This food expert notes that Dr Furhman, who invented the ANDI score, promotes all high ANDI vegetables and fruits and ignores whether or not they are organic and explains Dr Furhman wants even people too poor or unselective to eat better -- not just those with money and knowledge and access to Whole Foods and other quality sources of organic produce.

However, this author makes some excellent points that buying organic produce makes it more likely that the produce will have maximum nutrition and is very important for other reasons. (Other studies have verified this as well.)

I also think that the chemicals you avoid by buying only organic are harmful enough that if you value good health it's important to make a very strong effort to only buy and eat organic produce.

Many of you who have seen my posts and other sources that show that regardless of the rest of what you eat, to the extent the vast majority of what you eat is the more nutritious vegetables and some fruit you will have the best health, live longest, and be less fat.

But if you do that and buy produce sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, you'll get a megadose of those things!  NOT a good choice in my opinion either!

So I vote with this author to go only organic if you possibly can, particularly for the produce you eat most often!

“As provided by Whole Foods, here are the top 10 most nutrient-dense green vegetables and their respective ANDI scores. [I just list the top ones and the Chinese Cabbage ones which gets two listings for two versions.]

1. Mustard/Turnip/Collard Greens – 1000

2. Kale - 1000

3. Watercress – 1000  [That looks like a 3 way tie to me; but they may have added some information besides the points to rank them.  We have been getting mostly Kale but some Collard Greens too.]

4. Bok Choy/Baby Bok Choy – 824 [One name for Chinese Cabbage.]

7. Chinese/Napa Cabbage – 704

[The kind I’ve seen most often in our West Coast stores.]

8. Brussels Sprouts – 672

9. Swiss Chard – 670

Here are the parts of the Medical News Today aticle I thought most helpful and my comments”

What are the health benefits of bok choy?

Bok choy, also known as pak choi or Chinese white cabbage, was originally cultivated in China thousands of years ago and since then has spread to cuisines all over the world.

Bok choy belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga and turnips. These nutrition powerhouses supply loads of nutrients for little calories. If you are trying to eat healthier, cruciferous vegetables like bok choy should be at the very top of your grocery list. [I added that bolding.  They all have very high ANDI scores.]

Nutritional breakdown of bok choy

One cup of raw bok choy contains 9 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1.5 grams of carbohydrates, 0.7 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of cholesterol and 0.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat.

A one-cup serving of raw bok choy provides 5% of daily potassium needs, 62% vitamin A, 7% calcium, 5% vitamin B-6, 3% magnesium, 3% iron and 52% of vitamin C needs.

[The two big ones are the many carotenoids in a large dose and the natural vitamin C.]

Bok choy also offers several other vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, folate, choline, beta-carotene and vitamin K. 

[They left out sulfur here which has pain and inflammation reducing effects that it’s also high in. 

And, folate causes your telomeres to stay long which sharply slows aging and prevents disease.  Getting folate in decent amounts in this natural form makes any food containing it worth eating!]

Bok choy ranks very highly on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI), which rates foods based not only on their vitamin and mineral content, but also their phytochemical composition and antioxidant capacity.

Foods that have the most nutrients per calorie have the highest rankings, and bok choy is ranked among the top 3 fruits and vegetables in terms of ANDI scores.

Cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy are rich in glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds that have been found to benefit human health in a variety of ways.


Bok choy and other cruciferous vegetables have been found to possess certain anti-cancer properties. Several population studies have shown that people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of developing lung, prostate, colorectal and breast cancer. The glucosinolates found in these vegetables are converted into isothiocyanates in the body, and these compounds help the body fight cancer.5

Bok choy contains folate, which plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, thus preventing the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.1 Vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene function as powerful antioxidants that help protect cells against free radical damage. 

[Getting the mix of dozens of carotenes in food is far more health protective and safer than taking beta carotene!]

Selenium is a mineral that is not present in most fruits and vegetables, but can be found in bok choy. It plays a role in liver enzyme function and helps detoxify some cancer-causing compounds in the body. Additionally, selenium prevents inflammation and also decreases tumor growth rates.1  [Also the selenium in foods is more bioavailable than it is in the supplements although I do take 200 mcg a day that way.]

Bone health

The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K in bok choy all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

Iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen. Though phosphorus and calcium are both important in bone structure, the careful balance of the two minerals is necessary for proper bone mineralization - consumption of too much phosphorus with too little calcium intake can result in bone loss.

Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption is important for good health as it acts as a modifier of bone matrix proteins, improves calcium absorption and may reduce urinary excretion of calcium.2

Blood pressure

Potassium, calcium and magnesium (all present in bok choy) have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.8

Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure, however increasing potassium intake may be just as important because of its vasodilation effects. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of US adults meet the daily 4,700 mg recommendation.6

Heart health

Bok choy's folate, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B-6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all help to maintain a healthy heart. [It may be even more important for heart health that it has virtually no sugar and so few carbs per calorie and totally.]

In one study, those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared to those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 mg per day).6

Vitamin B-6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. When excessive amounts of homocysteine accumulate in the body, it can damage blood vessels and lead to heart problems.

[High homocysteine may be more like smoke than fire several studies suggest; but in the case of folate which protects DNA and keeps telomeres long – AND is high in Chinese Cabbage – it may be the direct cause of less harm too!]


Choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in bok choy that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.3  [When you get exercise AND DHA AND choline that also grows new brain cells and repairs them!]


The selenium found in bok choy has also been found to improve immune response to infection by stimulating production of killer T-cells.1


Collagen, the skin's support system, relies on vitamin C as an essential nutrient. Vitamin C works in our bodies as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution and smoke. Vitamin C also promotes collagen's ability to smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like bok choy decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.

[I added that bolding but this understates the case which is why I did it!]

Here are the links to the original story.

What are the health benefits of bok choy?
Find out about the potential health benefits of consuming bok choy, including
helping to fight cancer, maintaining bone health and improving immune response

to infection.   

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