Introduce Chinese cabbage to your diet 

Published 11:24 am Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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A couple of weeks ago, we learned of wondrous watercress, which ranks number one on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of foods “most strongly associated with reduced  chronic disease risk.” Second on that list is Chinese cabbage. That might also surprise a few folks. The two vegetables that make up this category of Chinese cabbage are Napa cabbage and Bok choy.


Napa cabbage, sometimes called “celery cabbage. ” originated near the Beijing region of China, and has long been cultivated for its edible leaves. The word Napa comes from colloquial and regional Japanese, and refers to the leaves of any vegetable. The Chinese meaning of the word literally means “white vegetable.” Like watercress, Napa cabbage belongs to the Brassica (mustard) family, alongside kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, collard greens, and radishes.

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Napa cabbage contains valuable nutrients and provides many health benefits. As a matter of fact, in Beijing, China it was once considered one of the most important sources of nutrients during long winter seasons.


Napa cabbage is a rich source of vitamin B9, otherwise known as folate. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 derived from foodstuffs, while folic acid is the nutrient’s synthetic form. Folate is a major tool for promoting a healthy heart. It accomplishes this by helping to remove homocysteine, which can damage the lining of arteries, increasing the risk of blood vessel blockage, one of the major contributors to heart attack and stroke. Folate also helps control the deposition of cholesterol on the human heart, and is actually used to treat certain types of anemia, a condition in which the blood does not have enough healthy red blood cells. 


The copper found in Napa cabbage helps stimulate high-level thought processes,  and mental functioning by keeping neural pathways in top shape. Also, copper deficiency during developmental growth may result in incomplete brain and nerve development. 


Strong bones and teeth: Napa cabbage not only contains calcium, but phosphorus, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. These two nutrients work in concert to form crystalline calcium phosphate, which influences bone regeneration by affecting newly formed bone minerals. Both calcium and phosphorus are of particular importance during puberty stages of bone development. Proper bone metabolism in children and teens is crucial to the building of strong bones to fight bone loss later in life. Women too, require these nutrients during pregnancy, as well as menopausal stages. 


Napa cabbage contributes the nutrient vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) which is arguably the most important B vitamin for mental and brain health, because it is crucial for the manufacturing of neurotransmitters. Studies show that there is an association between depressive symptoms, and low blood levels of vitamin B6. Also, intake of vitamin B6 is essential to control hormone imbalances that can lead to emotional disturbances. 


Tasty Napa cabbage can be steamed, roasted, grilled, added to dumplings, burgers, sandwiches, stir fries, soups and salads. It makes great coleslaw, too. My mother made the very best coleslaw I ever tasted! I could pick hers out of a thousand. I asked her one day, “Mama, why is your coleslaw so much better than any others I’ve had?” 


She said, “Honey, that’s because I make it with Napa cabbage, which is sweeter and more tender than green head cabbage. ” 


So give Napa cabbage a try. It can be a delicious healthful addition to your diet. 


David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text to 864-494-6215.