The Greens That are Better Than Kale

Asian greens like bok choy have long been a staple in many grocery stores. But more often, stores are stocking varieties that might be less familiar – Chinese cabbage, mizuna, and more. If you haven’t ventured to try these greens yet, you should. Not only are they delicious, but they also pack powerfully good-for-you nutrients with fewer than 84 kilojoules per chopped cup.

Cancer fighters

Most of these greens come from the Brassica vegetable family, so they’re cousins of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. They all contain potent compounds called indoles that are known to play a significant role in cancer prevention. In fact, eating vegetables from the Brassica family on a regular basis could significantly reduce cancer risk.

Vision protectors

Asian greens are also a rich source of the carotenes lutein and zeaxanthin, both known to protect eye health.

Muscle motivators

Thanks to their rich green colors, Asian greens also contain a wealth of the mineral magnesium, which is involved in healthly muscle function.

B-vitamin boosters

Most Asian greens are very rich in the B-vitamin folate. This helps boost heart health and plays a role in preventing certain birth defects.

Bone builders

Bone-building vitamin K is also amply stocked in the leaves of Asian greens. Since vitamin K can also reduce blood clotting, people on blood thinning medication should consult with their physician before going overboard with Asian greens in their diets.

Heart helpers

Most Asian greens supply about 50 percent or more of the Daily Value for vitamin C along with about 10 percent of your daily potassium needs. Both of these nutrients promote healthy circulation and protect heart health.


Bok choy and baby bok choy

The deep green leaves and crunchy stems are wonderful in a stir-fry (the younger version cooks up faster ). You can also braise or steam bok choy (sometimes called pak choi) and serve with oyster sauce as a side dish. Add sliced bok choy to simmering soups just before serving.

Chinese cabbage

Also called Napa cabbage, this light green, delicately flavored vegetable is the base ingredient for the Korean dish kim chi (fermented, seasoned cabbage that provides a source of healthy bacteria). Use this crunchy cabbage raw in salads and stir-frys, or slice very thinly and use as a main ingredient for Chinese dumplings.

Chrysanthemum greens

Not from the flowering plant of the same name, these Asian greens have a long, slender, flat appearance with a notable tangy flavor. Use a few leaves raw in salad or braise – but be careful not to overcook, which makes them bitter.

Tat soi

A variety of bok choy, its leaves grow in a circular rosette. Young leaves work well in salads, or you can roughly chop and add to soup and stir-frys.

Gai choy

There are lots of varieties (even some with purple leaves) all with a strong spicy mustard taste, hence their other name – Chinese mustard greens. These greens stand up well as a side to rich meat dishes. Baby mustard greens can be used raw in salads but still have a spicy punch.

Gai lan

Also know as Chinese broccoli, it has thin stalks with small broccoli flowers at the top. Use the leaves, stalk, and flower buds in stir-fry or braise with other heavier greens as a side dish.


Its dandelion-shaped leaves have a peppery taste. Use small, young mizuna leaves raw in salads and larger more mature leaves in a sauté.

Pea shoots

The tender top tendrils and young leaves of snow pea plants have a delicate snow pea flavor. Roughly chop and add to salads drizzled with fresh ginger dressing.


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