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Chinese cabbage is a vegetable from China, known in Europe only for about 70 years. In Poland, it is available mainly in the winter season and is used for salads. Chinese cabbage is a rich source of bioactive substances beneficial to he alth, but should not be abused by people with thyroid problems. Check what are the properties of Chinese cabbage and what is its cultivation.

Chinese cabbage( Brassica rapa L var. Pekinensis ), a subspecies of field cabbage, is one of the most important and purchased cruciferous vegetables in Poland. It comes from China, near the Yangtze River delta. In eastern Asia, it has been cultivated probably since the 15th century, and it came to Europe only in the 1950s. Chinese cabbage in English is called chinese cabbage, which means "Chinese cabbage". This introduces a bit of confusion, because in Polish, Chinese cabbage is a different type of cabbage, which is also called pok-choi.

Chinese cabbage - characteristics and cultivation

Chinese cabbage is an annual plant. It has long, oval leaves 30 to 60 cm long. The leaves at the bottom are white in color and the rest is light green. You can clearly see the innervation on them. The Chinese cabbage heads are oval or oblong in shape depending on the variety. They weigh from 1 to 3 kg.

Chinese cabbage is a demanding vegetable to grow. It needs fertile soil with a pH of 6.5 - 7.5, light, constantly moist, but without stagnant water and at least a three-year break in cultivation in the same place. Chinese cabbage requires fertilizing with organic fertilizers and intensive watering.

In Poland, Chinese cabbage is sown in July and harvested in October. It is suitable for long, many months of storage. Under optimal conditions, Chinese cabbage can be stored for a period of 3 to 5 months.

Chinese cabbage - nutritional values ​​

Chinese cabbage is a very low-calorie vegetable (13 kcal / 100 g). It is rich in fiber and high in protein for a vegetable source (1.5 g / 100 g). It is a good source of vitamin C, K and vitamin A, as well as folate, pyridoxine, calcium, potassium and iron. Chinese cabbage is one of the cruciferous vegetables that are highly valued for their positive effect on human he alth.

Bioactive substances present in Chinese cabbage are:

  • glucosinolates (mainly synigrin, glucoiberin, glucoraphanin, progoitrin, glucobrassicin) 2896.78 ± 113.67 μg / g dry weight,
  • phenolic compounds (p-hydroxybenzoic, chlorogenic, caffeic, ferulic, catechins and epicatechins), 226.53 ± 15.63 μg / g dry weight,
  • carotenoids (beta-carotene, violaxanthin, anteraxanthin, zeaxanthin, beta-critoxanthin), 741.73 ± 20.75 μg / g dry weight,
  • chlorophyll, 836.48 ± 104.85 μg / g dry weight. The highest concentration of polyphenols and the highest antioxidant activity (and therefore a stronger he alth-promoting effect) are shown by the outer, greener leaves of Chinese cabbage.

Nutritional value of Chinese cabbage in 100 g

Energy13 kcal
Protein1.5 g
Fat0.2 g
Carbohydrates2.18 g
fiber1 g
Calcium105 mg
Iron0.8 mg
Magnesium19 mg
Phosphorus37 mg
Potassium252 mg
Sodium65 mg
Zinc0.19 mg
Copper0.021 mg
Selen0.5 μg
Vitamin C45 mg
Tiamina0.04 mg
Riboflavin0.07 mg
Niacin0.5 mg
Pyridoxine0.194 mg
Foliates66 μg
Choline6.4 mg
Vitamin A223 μg
Beta-carotene2681 μg
Lutein and zeaxanthin40 μg
Vitamin E0.09 mg
Vitamin K45 μg

Chinese cabbage - he alth properties

Chinese cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, similar to broccoli, kale and horseradish. They are characterized by a similar composition of bioactive substances, which have well-documented pro-he alth effects.

Cruciferous vegetables, including Chinese cabbage, have an effect:

  • antibacterial - inhibit the multiplication of many pathogenic and food spoilage bacteria; bacteriostatic, even against Helicobacter pylori resistant to treatment and antibiotic-resistant strains,
  • anti-inflammatory - reduce the concentrationmarkers of inflammation and the activity of T lymphocytes, which is important, among others in rheumatoid arthritis,
  • antioxidant - they inactivate free radicals, thus protecting cell structures and genetic material, preventing its damage; isothiocyanates (glucosinolate derivatives) activate proteins that have antioxidant properties,
  • anti-cancer - glucosinolate derivatives and polyphenols present in Chinese cabbage prevent the development of some cancers in the early stages,
  • reducing the risk of heart disease - glucosylates reduce oxidative stress and lower LDL cholesterol in the blood,
  • potentially protective in metabolic diseases.

Glucosinolates and their derivatives are of the greatest importance for he alth in cruciferous vegetables. In Beijing cabbage identified:

  • glucobrassicin, which is a precursor of indole-3-carbinol - a compound with proven anti-cancer activity. Its activity is due to its influence on hormones. Research has shown that estrogens under certain conditions can lead to neoplastic processes. Indole-3-carbinol converts oestrogens to products that do not induce the development of hormone-dependent tumors. It is important in the prevention of breast cancer, endometrial cancer and cervical cancer,
  • glucoiberin, which inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells,
  • glucoraphanin, the consumption of which leads to lowering the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the blood. About 20% of glucoraphanin is converted into sulforaphane, known as a natural chemotherapeutic agent. Sulforaphane inhibits the cell cycle and induces apoptosis (death) of cancer cells,

Plant substances supplied with the diet in appropriate amounts may reduce the likelihood of cancer, and their consumption should be treated as an element of prevention. Bioactive compounds present in Chinese cabbage may be helpful in inhibiting the growth of some cancers at very early stages. Glucosinolates are chemopreventive in many areas.

They reduce the activity of carcinogen activating enzymes and regulate the enzymes involved in detoxification - phase I and II enzymes. In addition, they have the ability to scavenge free radicals and activate DNA repair mechanisms.

The role of glucosinolates is smaller in inhibiting further stages of carcinogenesis, i.e. in reversing already formed neoplastic changes, however, it is worth noting that the substances contained in Chinese cabbage have the ability to inhibit the activation of oncogenes, induce apoptosis, inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and inhibitangiogenesis and inflammatory processes.

The presence of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase in Chinese cabbage. Both of these enzymes play a role in detoxifying the body, reducing oxidative stress, supporting the immune system, and reducing the risk of cancer and gene mutations that can lead to disease.

Storing and processing Chinese cabbage causes a partial loss of bioactive compounds. Grinding is responsible for a small loss in the amount of glucosinolates, but cooking reduces their content by 18 - 60% and depends mainly on the amount of water into which these compounds penetrate, and not on the cooking time.

The solution to keep most of the glucosinolates from cooking is to add powdered mustard seeds. Vitamin C is also very sensitive to temperature, and thermal treatment mostly leads to its loss. Likewise, slicing fresh cabbage and leaving it for a few hours. However, gentle cooking has practically no effect on the antioxidant content of cabbage.

Chinese cabbage and thyroid diseases

One of the glucosinolates present in Chinese cabbage is progoitrin - an anti-nutritional substance that interferes with the absorption of iodine by the body and belongs to the goitreous compounds.

Eating large amounts of cruciferous vegetables, especially simultaneously with iodine sources, significantly hinders the attachment of iodine to tyronine and the production of thyroid hormones - tri- and tertiodothyronine.

In he althy people who do not have thyroid problems, the consumption of progoitrin with food does not seem to make any difference. However, you have to be careful about this relationship when suffering from hypothyroidism and inflammatory diseases of the gland.

Dietary progoitrin is only a he alth risk in severe iodine deficiencies. However, people with thyroid problems should not make cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables into their diets.

Chinese cabbage - use in the kitchen

Chinese cabbage is eagerly chosen by Poles, especially in the winter season, because it can be used to prepare fresh salads. Compared to other varieties of cabbage, it is easier to digest and more delicate in taste.

The use of Chinese cabbage is not limited only to the preparation of salads. It can be boiled and pickled. Once purchased, Chinese cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

In the cuisines of China, Japan and Korea, Chinese cabbage is one of the staple vegetables. It is the basis of kimchi, it is an ingredient of stir-fry dishes, and the leaves are used raw to wrap meat in them and dipping insauces. The outside, the harder leaves are used to make soups.

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