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Napa Cabbage


Napa cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis), also known as celery cabbage, is a type of Chinese cabbage originating near the Beijing region of China, and is widely used in East Asian cuisine. In much of the world, this is the vegetable referred to as "Chinese cabbage". Napa cabbage is lighter in color than other Chinese cabbages such as bok choy, which is also sometimes called Chinese cabbage. The flavor has been described by some as delicate compared to bok choy or cabbage, and it can be used in stir-fry with other ingredients such as tofu, mushroom or zucchini. Botanically this chinese cabbage variety belongs to Brassica family of vegetables which also include brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli.  

The name "napa" comes from colloquial and regional Japanese, where nappa refers to the leaves of any vegetable, especially when used as food.  Napa cabbage, along with bok choy is one of the popular cabbage vegetables in mainland China. Napa’s sweet, crunchy celery flavored leaves are one of the most sought after ingredients in the oriental cuisine where on an average, each person eats about 1 pound of fresh leafy vegetables per day. Nonetheless, Chinese cabbages are increasingly being used in western, Mediterranean as well as in American cuisines.

Napa is packed with many antioxidant plant compounds such as carotenes, thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. In addition, it has abundant in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Scientific studies suggest these compounds are known to offer protection against breast, colon and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.

Researchers now realize that different types of cabbage (red, green, and Savoy) contain different patterns of glucosinolates. This new knowledge means that your broadest health benefits from cabbage are likely to come from inclusion of all varieties in your diet. Enjoy the delicate flavor of napa cabbage in your favorite salad. It is a milder tasting variety of cabbage that boasts the highest concentration of folate.

Further, napa cabbage has very good levels of vitamin-C. 100 g of fresh vegetable provides about 45% of daily requirements of this vitamin. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

Like in other cabbages, napa has adequate levels of vitamin K, provides about 38% of RDA levels. Vitamin-K has potential role in the bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells. Therefore, enough vitamin K in the diet makes your bone stronger, healthier and delay osteoporosis. Further, vitamin-K also has established role in curing Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

The Ming Dynasty pharmacologist Li Shizhen studied the Chinese cabbage for its medicinal qualities. Before this time the Chinese cabbage was largely confined to the Yangtze River Delta region. The Chinese cabbage as it is known today is very similar to a variant cultivated in Zhejiang around the 14th century. During the following centuries, it became popular in northern China and the northern harvest soon exceeded the southern one. Northern cabbages were exported along the Grand Canal of China to Zhejiang and as far south as Guangdong.

They were introduced to Korea, where it became the staple vegetable for making kimchi. In the early 20th century, it was taken to Japan by returning soldiers who had fought in China during the Russo-Japanese War. The Chinese cabbage is now commonly found in markets throughout the world.

Napa cabbage is used as a sign of prosperity in China, and its image often appears as a symbol in glass and porcelain figures. The famous Jadeite Cabbage sculpture of Taiwan's National Palace Museum is a carving of a napa cabbage variety.  


Tyler Florence's Shrimp and Egg Fried Rice with Napa Cabbage

Simple Napa Cabbage Salad with Almonds