Kigali has very many Chinese restaurants, and some people have probably come across cabbages, such as green, Savoy, red, Napa, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts, or cabbage on the menu. Some might even have spotted these plants in their local market.
Bok choy is the most well-known type of Chinese cabbage, with its “spoon shaped” green leaves and white stalks that are similar to celery. Bok choy is very adaptable—it can be stir-fried, deep-fried, grilled or steamed.
According to nutritionists, this plant is considered to be one of the healthiest leafy vegetables, and contains vitamins A and C. Vitamin C, Emmy Ntamanga, a Kigali-based nutritionist and consultant, says, works as an antioxidant in the body, protecting cells from damage by neutralising free radicals, or unstable molecules that result from vital chemical processes.
He says it also contains other vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, zinc, sodium, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, folate, choline, beta-carotene, and vitamin K.
Also, he notes that it’s important for one to include bok choy in their diet because it provides at least three per cent of the recommended daily intake of magnesium and phosphorus, seven per cent of calcium and 26 per cent of vitamin K.
In addition to calcium, Ntamanga says, one needs magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K to build and maintain strong bones.
According to Erick Musengimana, a nutritionist at Rwanda Diabetes Association in Kigali, consuming bok choy helps reduce cancer risk. He claims the vegetable has unique sulphur-containing compounds that may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, lung and digestive tract cancers.