Nai Bai (Bok Choy)

An extremely popular choice of vegetable among Singaporeans, the Nai Bai is a variation of the Bok Choy. It is also commonly known as the Milk Cabbage for speakers of other languages. It is not surprising as the literal translation of this vegetable is ‘milk white’. Derived from its noticeably white stems, Nai Bai can easily be spotted amongst a pile of green vegetables because of this characteristic. Despite it’s name, however, its leaves are dark green (and crinkled).

What’s New and Beneficial About Bok Choy

  • Phenols and other phytonutrients in bok choy represent what is now known to be a full spectrum of over 70 antioxidants in this cruciferous vegetable. The antioxidant richness of bok choy partly explains ongoing investigation of bok choy in relationship to cancer prevention since prevention and reduction of oxidative stress has often been linked to decreased cancer risk. In most research studies, increased intake of antioxidant nutrients from vegetables like bok choy has been associated with decreased oxidative stress, and this connection is one way that researchers explain the ability of certain vegetables to lower cancer risk.
  • Bok choy also contains glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds associated with reduced cancer risk. While all cruciferous vegetable contain beneficial amounts of glucosinolates, a recent study on the total glucosinolate content of bok choy shoots has caught our attention. This study looked at very early developmental forms of cruciferous vegetables including their seeds; their sprouts, and their shoots. What the researchers found was a greater concentration of total glucosinolates in the shoots of the bok choy plants than in the shoots of most other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. Only mustard green shoots contained more total glucosinolates than the bok choy shoots.
  • Because of its strong beta-carotene content, bok choy ranks as our 11th richest food in vitamin A. This vitamin A richness places bok choy ahead of some of its fellow cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Significant amounts of other carotenoids—for example, lutein—are also provided by bok choy.

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