July 17, 2018
Noodles with edamame beans from above

3 Chinese Vegetables to Try

by Berkeley Wellness  

A stir-fry at a Chinese restaurant can have lots of different vegetables in it, some that are distinctly Asian. Here are three you can use in your own stir-fries, salads, pasta dishes, soups, and stews. You may find some of them fresh at farmers’ or specialty markets. If not, they are available canned at most supermarkets. Be aware that canning affects the taste and texture of the vegetables and decreases some nutrients; sodium is often added, but can be reduced by rinsing—or you might be able to find low-sodium versions.

  • Baby corn. Baby corn is simply corn that has been harvested early. Eaten cob and all, it hasn’t developed its full sweetness or corn flavor. Like regular corn, baby corn provides some B vitamins, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, with about 50 calories per cup. Its yellow color comes from the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which have potential health benefits. (For a fun take on eating baby corn, see this scene of Tom Hanks's character Josh encountering the vegetable for the first time in the movie Big.)
  • Bamboo shoots. These young edible shoots of the environmentally friendly bamboo plant are similar to asparagus in flavor but with a woodier texture. They provide a fair amount of fiber and some nutrients (notably potassium), along with phytosterols (which help lower cholesterol), lignans (which may have anti-cancer activity), and other plant chemicals—with only 15 to 25 calories per cup, sliced. Used in traditional Asian medicine, bamboo is also said to be good for digestion, heart health, and other conditions, though human studies are limited. A small Korean study in the journal Nutrition in 2009 found that bamboo shoots lowered blood cholesterol and increased bowel movements, similar to a cellulose fiber supplement.
  • Water chestnuts. Not really a nut but rather the roots (actually a tuber) of an aquatic plant, water chestnuts are similar in shape and color to chestnuts (which are real nuts). The white flesh is mildly sweet. Low in calories (35 per cup, sliced), they provide some potassium and fiber, small amounts of other nutrients, and polyphenol compounds that have antioxidant activity. But it’s their crispness, which holds up in cooking, that makes them stand out in a stir-fry.

Also see 6 Asian Noodles to Try.