Is bok choy healthier raw or cooked?

Quick Answers

Both raw and cooked bok choy have health benefits. Raw bok choy retains more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, some nutrients become more bioavailable when bok choy is cooked. Light cooking can make bok choy easier to digest while retaining many of its nutrients. Overall, enjoy bok choy both raw and cooked to get the most benefits.

Nutrient Profiles of Raw vs Cooked Bok Choy

Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is highly nutritious whether eaten raw or cooked. However, some differences exist in the nutrient profiles of raw vs cooked bok choy.


Many water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins are sensitive to heat. One cup of raw chopped bok choy contains:

  • Vitamin C: 52% DV
  • Folate: 10% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 7% DV

Studies show cooking bok choy reduces the levels of these heat-sensitive vitamins by 15–30% (1, 2).


Minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium are naturally plentiful and stable in bok choy. These minerals remain intact whether bok choy is eaten raw or cooked (1, 3).


Cruciferous vegetables like bok choy are packed with beneficial antioxidants called glucosinolates. These antioxidants show anticancer effects in studies (4).

However, glucosinolate levels decrease by 18–59% when bok choy is boiled or stir-fried. Light cooking for under 5 minutes retains the most antioxidants (5).


Raw and cooked bok choy offer similar amounts of fiber. One cup (70 grams) provides 10% and 8% DV, respectively (1, 6).

Nutrient Bioavailability

Some nutrients in bok choy become more bioavailable when cooked.

Beta Carotene

Bok choy is an excellent source of beta carotene, a precursor for active vitamin A (retinol) in your body. Though raw bok choy contains more beta carotene, cooking increases its bioavailability.

Studies show the body absorbs 3–6x more beta carotene from cooked, mashed or pureed vegetables compared to raw (7, 8).

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

These carotenoids function as antioxidants in your eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations remain stable in cooked vs raw bok choy. However, cooking boosts their bioavailability by breaking down plant cell walls (9).


For some people, raw cruciferous vegetables are difficult to digest. Their fibrous nature can cause gas and bloating.

Light cooking softens the fiber in bok choy, making it easier on digestion. Studies confirm cooking cruciferous vegetables increases the digestibility of their nutrients (10).

Cooking Methods

To get the best nutrition from bok choy, avoid overcooking it. Here is how different cooking methods impact its nutrients (11, 12, 13):


Boiling bok choy until just tender retains the most nutrients. Limit boiling to 3–6 minutes.


Steaming briefly for 1–2 minutes is gentle and preserves antioxidants.


Stir-frying on high heat for 1–3 minutes with a little oil limits nutrient loss.


Microwaving on high for 2–3 minutes is fast. This method maintains more glucosinolates than boiling.

Raw Bok Choy Nutrition

Here is the full nutrition profile of 1 cup (70 grams) of raw, chopped bok choy (1):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 9 0%
Protein 1 gram 2%
Carbs 2 grams 1%
Fiber 1 gram 10%
Vitamin C 44 mg 52%
Vitamin K 63 mcg 53%
Folate 39 mcg 10%
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg 7%
Calcium 40 mg 4%
Iron 0.5 mg 3%
Potassium 171 mg 4%

Key Benefits

Some of the top nutrients and benefits of raw bok choy include:

  • Vitamin C: Raw bok choy is very high in immune-supporting vitamin C. Just 1 cup provides over half your daily needs.
  • Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting, raw bok choy is rich in vitamin K.
  • Folate: Raw bok choy supplies folate, a B vitamin tied to red blood cell production and heart health.
  • Glucosinolates: These beneficial antioxidants are most concentrated in raw cruciferous vegetables.

Cooked Bok Choy Nutrition

The nutrition values for 1 cup (156 grams) of boiled, drained bok choy are (6):

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value
Calories 9 0%
Protein 2 grams 3%
Carbs 2 grams 1%
Fiber 1 gram 8%
Vitamin C 22 mg 25%
Vitamin K 483 mcg 404%
Folate 34 mcg 9%
Calcium 49 mg 5%
Potassium 171 mg 4%

Key Benefits

Some of the key nutrients provided by cooked bok choy include:

  • Vitamin C: Even when boiled, bok choy supplies a quarter of your daily vitamin C.
  • Vitamin K: Boiling actually concentrates vitamin K levels compared to raw.
  • Folate: Light cooking retains much of bok choy’s folate content.
  • Calcium: Small amounts of the bone-building mineral calcium are found in cooked bok choy.
  • Potassium: This electrolyte is necessary for heart health and preserved with cooking.

Health Benefits

Both raw and cooked bok choy provide many health benefits. Here is a comparison:

Cancer Prevention

Bok choy contains glucosinolates which show anticancer effects in cell studies. However, glucosinolate levels are highest in raw bok choy (14).

Yet, cooked bok choy appears more protective against breast cancer in population studies. More human research is needed (15).

Eye Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids associated with reduced risk of age-related eye diseases. Though present in both raw and cooked bok choy, these antioxidants are more bioavailable from cooked forms (9).

Digestive Health

The insoluble fiber in bok choy relieves constipation by adding bulk to stools. Cooked bok choy may be better tolerated by those with digestive issues (10).

Bone Health

Bok choy provides vitamin K and calcium for healthy bones. Vitamin K promotes calcium absorption and retention (16).

Interestingly, levels of absorbable vitamin K are higher in cooked bok choy. However, raw forms provide more calcium (1, 6).

Heart Health

Folate and potassium in both raw and cooked bok choy support heart health. Folate lowers homocysteine, a cardiovascular risk factor. Potassium regulates blood pressure (17, 18).


Bok choy is highly nutritious and well tolerated by most people. However, there are some downsides:

Pesticide residue

Imported bok choy may contain higher pesticide residues when grown conventionally. Opt for organic or locally grown if eating raw (19).


Like other cruciferous veggies, bok choy contains goitrogens that may disrupt thyroid function if consumed raw in very high amounts (20).

Kidney stones

For those prone to kidney stones, raw bok choy provides significantly more oxalates than cooked. Boiling reduces oxalate content by 30–87% (21).

Raw vs Cooked: Which Is More Nutritious?

Both raw and cooked bok choy are highly nutritious. Raw packs more vitamin C, vitamin B6 and glucosinolates. Cooked versions may be better for absorbing carotenoids, vitamin K and minerals.

To maximize nutrition, enjoy bok choy both raw and cooked. Salads and cold dishes can feature raw shredded bok choy. Cooked bok choy works well in stir-fries, soups and side dishes.

Cooking Tips

Here are some tips for preparing bok choy:

  • Rinse thoroughly before use to remove dirt.
  • Trim off the very end of the stems, which can be fibrous.
  • Cut or tear leaves from stems before cooking.
  • Cook stems 2–3 minutes longer than leaves.
  • Add raw leaves at the end to wilt in residual heat.
  • Stir-fry briefly over high heat with coconut oil and garlic.
  • Steam for 1 minute to retain crunch.
  • Microwave on high 2–3 minutes with a splash of water.

Quick Ideas

Here are quick recipe ideas to enjoy bok choy:

Raw Bok Choy Recipes

  • Make a refreshing salad with raw bok choy, carrots, red cabbage, ginger and miso dressing.
  • Add thin slices to spring rolls with rice noodles and dipping sauce.
  • Top tacos with shredded raw bok choy, avocado and lime juice.
  • Toss chopped raw bok choy into a grain bowl with quinoa, chickpeas and tahini sauce.
  • Blend into smoothies along with pineapple, banana and coconut water.

Cooked Bok Choy Recipes

  • Stir-fry bok choy with garlic, shiitake mushrooms and teriyaki sauce. Serve over brown rice.
  • Saute chopped bok choy with chicken or tofu, sesame oil and soy sauce for a quick dinner.
  • Add steamed bok choy to egg drop or miso soup along with scallions.
  • Roast chopped bok choy with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix in with pasta.
  • Saute bok choy in coconut oil then mix in with quinoa and black beans.


Both raw and cooked bok choy provide phenomenal nutrition. Raw bok choy packs more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, cooking can increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients.

For optimal health, enjoy bok choy cooked and raw. Quick-cook methods like steaming, stir-frying or microwaving for just 1–3 minutes will help retain nutrients while still providing benefits of cooked veggie.

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