Bok Choy Carbs and Nutrition

Learn the nutritional value, calories, and uses of bok choy

Bok Choy
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Bok choy, also called Chinese cabbage or pak choi, is a member of the Brassica cabbage family. Bok choy is highly nutritious and very low in carbs. It is strongly associated with Chinese cuisine. You can find it easily in the grocery store. The mature type has large white stalks and dark green leaves. You can find smaller and more tender baby bok choy (or Shanghai bok choy) in season.

Carbohydrate and Fiber Counts

  • 4 ounces (1/4 pound) raw bok choy: 1 gram effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 14 calories
  • 1/2 cup cooked bok choy: 2 grams effective (net) carbohydrate plus 1 gram fiber and 10 calories

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

As with most non-starchy vegetables, the glycemic index of bok choy can't be determined by standard procedures, but eating bok choy is assumed to have very little effect on blood sugar. The glycemic load takes into account the amount of food that is eaten. A glycemic load of less than 10 is considered to be low and should have little effect on blood glucose levels and insulin reaction. Here are estimates of the glycemic load for bok choy:

  • 1 cup raw bok choy: 1
  • 4 ounces (1/4 pound) raw bok choy: 1
  • 1/2 cup cooked bok choy: 1

Nutritional Benefits

Bok choy is an excellent source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and beta-carotene. It is a very good source of folate, calcium, and vitamin B6 as well.

It is one of the cruciferous vegetables and is considered a leafy green vegetable.

Selection

When choosing bok choy, look for vibrant green colored blades accompanied by firm stems that are a little moist. Bok choy leaves are similar in appearance to spinach and the stems look like celery but are more white than green.

Don't wash bok choy until immediately before cooking. You can eat bok choy raw, but most people add it to soups, stews, and stir-frys.

Storage

Bok choy should be stored in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer in a loose or perforated plastic bag. Bok choy can last up to three to four days in the refrigerator. If frozen, it can last between 10 to 12 months.

Easy Cooking Techniques

Bok choy cooks quickly and you can prepare it with several different methods, including steaming, stir-frying, braising, grilling, and stewing. For one five-minute side dish or meal, saute bok choy with chopped snow peas and mushrooms in a frying pan with a little oil and season to taste. Add pre-cooked chicken or tofu to this for a full meal.

Mark Bittman, the author of "Leafy Greens," notes that bok choy can be as crunchy as celery if you keep the cooking time short, but if you cook for longer it develops a creamy texture that is unique among greens.

Sources:

Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283. doi:10.2337/dc08-1239.

USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/.

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