If you’re a fan of mustard greens, cabbage and spinach, you’ll probably love the taste and texture of tatsoi, a Chinese cabbage with a unique taste and impressive nutrition profile.
This ancient green is an excellent source of micronutrients and is as versatile as popular leafy greens. It has even been nicknamed “vitamin green.”
To mix up your standard salad greens, consider giving tatsoi a try. The leaves offer a mustardy taste and can spice up any plain ol’ dish.
Tatsoi is a leafy green in the Brassica family, along with mustard greens. Also called “tat choy,” this Asian green is closely related to bok choy, and it’s gaining popularity in North American cuisine because of its unique flavor and nutrition content.
This Chinese cabbage has spoon-shaped leaves with a sweet but nutty flavor when eaten raw.
Many liken the taste and texture of tatsoi greens to spinach and Swiss chard. The leaves can be consumed raw and added to salads or lightly cooked and added to soups and stir-fries.
Tatsoi is a type of Chinese cabbage, and it also goes by the names:
When shopping for plants or seeds, they’ll likely be labeled “tatsoi,” but there are other speciality varieties available, some of which are labeled as bok choy seedlings. They include:
The nutrition value of these Asian greens may vary, depending on when they are harvested and the type of seedlings used. Generally, 100 grams of raw tatsoi leaves contain approximately:
The potential health benefits of tatsoi come from the plant’s antioxidant and micronutrient content. Called “vitamin green,” it’s one of the top food sources of vitamin C and vitamin A.
Tatsoi offers more vitamin C than oranges, papaya and spinach. These greens are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants that minimize oxidative stress and damage to your cells.
Research shows that eating vitamin C foods may be associated with a lower risk of many chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Getting plenty of vitamin C is also known to increase longevity.
Asian greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, a nutrient that plays an important role in many body functions. Vitamin A helps maintain strong bones, healthy skin and a strong immune system.
It’s also critical for vision support and has been shown to help in the prevention of macular degeneration.
Want to promote brain, heart and bone health? Make sure you get enough folic acid foods in your diet. Adding tatsoi is a great way to boost folate levels, which support strong bones, cognitive function and even a healthy pregnancy.
Studies indicate that high folate intake is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may help boost brain function for elderly adults experiencing cognitive decline.
Glucosinolates are compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. They give greens their bitter taste and have been researched for their protective benefits against heart disease, cancer and more.
Research suggests that glucosinolates have anti-carcinogenic effects and may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast, kidney and esophageal cancers.
Asian greens are packed with heart-healthy nutrients, including antioxidants and calcium. Adding these greens into your diet can help boost heart health by relaxing smooth muscle tissues in your arteries and helping prevent blood clotting.
Studies show that it’s important to obtain calcium from your diet, so eating foods rich in the nutrient will help you to maintain healthy levels and not only improve heart health, but benefit bone health too.
Tatsoi greens can be planted in the spring for a summer harvest or in the late summer for fall harvest. They grow quickly, in about 20 days, and make an excellent addition to your home vegetable garden.
If you plan to plant it in the spring, opt for full-grown tatsoi instead of seedlings, which would be more vulnerable in cold temperatures.
The best growing conditions for mustard spinach include:
Harvesting the leaves is simple. You can start cutting leaves when they are about four inches long. To cut the whole head of the plant, leave about one inch above the ground so it re-sprouts.
You can use tatsoi in the same ways you use spinach, arugula and mustard greens. It goes well in salads and as a side in seafood or meat dishes.
It has a mild earthy flavor with peppery, mustardy notes, so it pairs well with sweet ingredients like apples and citrus fruits.
The greens have a pleasant buttery texture when added to stir-fries and cooked with vegetables. When eaten raw, they offer a nice crunch.
When shopping for Asian greens, look for leaves that have a glossy green color. Avoid leaves that are yellow and wilting.
The freshest form of mustard spinach will be offered as an intact head, which you may find at your local farmers market. Greens can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days.
Need some ideas for tatsoi recipes? Try these simple and healthy dishes:
Like bok choy, tatsoi is referred to as a “goitrogenic,” which means that it contains chemicals that may interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. If you have thyroid issues, speak to your doctor before adding Asian greens to your diet.
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