Bok choy is another crucifer (like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) with many beneficial phytonutrients. Also zero fats and low carbohydrate count. Most researched are the glucosinolates and carotenoids. Glucosinolates are a mixed blessing from plants. In high doses, they can inhibit thyroid hormone, which is needed for proper cell metabolism. In moderate amounts, they block cancer cells by directly affecting the cell cycle and protecting against harmful free radicals. Isothiocyanates, some derived from glucosinolates, are other powerful agents preventing cancer cells from forming and proliferating. Bok choy is an excellent source of many carotenoids, especially beta-carotene, an antioxidant throughout the body. Studies suggest beta-carotene lowers cancer risk and is great for the eyes. (More research needed to prove these claims.) Bok choy is especially high in vitamins A, C and K, with some folate and vitamin B6. A and C are antioxidants that protect immune cells, prevent plaque build up in arteries and help preserve elasticity of epithelial tissue (especially blood vessel walls). Folate and vitamin B6 lower blood plasma homocysteine, linked with vessel damage at high concentration.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – A, C, K, B9 (Folate), and B6 (Pyridoxine)
Minerals – Calcium, Potassium and Manganese
Bok choy may help prevent heart disease, macular degeneration, cancers of colon, prostate, endometrial lining, lung and pancreas. Potentially reduces risk of many other cancers.
How to Grow
Known as Chinese cabbage, requires same soil preparation as other Brassicas (members of the mustard family; broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) but are more demanding than other cabbages. See one of these entries for soil prep. Choose a site with full sun. Plan to grow them next to other Brassicas in their own bed with extra compost, manure or planting mix worked in. Sow seeds beginning late spring or about three months before the first intense frost. Place seeds two every 8-10 inches in shallow drills spaced 1 foot apart. Later, thin out to leave most prominent seedling every 8-10 inches. Does not store long. For continuous harvest, sow seeds every two weeks. Keep soil moist and weed free. Hoe and water regularly. Crops are ready to harvest 2-3 months after sowing.
Slugs, earwigs and flea beetles are common pests. Try to remove and destroy pests by hand. Slugs feed in twilight, morning and evening. If infestation seems severe, try another method. For snails and slugs, embed a cup of beer in the soil. Both will be attracted, slither their way in, get stuck and drown. Earwigs attack by nipping at buds and leaves of plants. Generally, not a problem, but if needed, you can easily set a trap. They don’t like daylight. Create a dark environment by filling a pot with dry grass, leaves or plant material and perching it upside down on a skinny post above the affected plants. Earwigs will crawl in during the day. Destroy the plant matter inside the pot every week or so. Control tiny flea beetles by using their instinctive responses against them. Like fleas, they spring up in the air when approached. Create a sticky piece of wood or cardboard by applying grease or other adhesive that will remain sticky. Walk along the plants with the sticky side a couple inches above the foliage. Watch them jump and get stuck.
To get the most nutritional benefit from bok choy, change how you prepare it. When left raw, the glucosinolates are more bio-available. When cooked lightly with a little oil, the carotenoids are more available for absorption. Golden Rule: diversify your diet. Get many different fruits, veggies and other sources of nutrition worked into the weekly menu.