Since ancient times, many people in East Asia have loved and eaten kimchi, the national cuisine of Korea. It is well renowned for having a spicy flavor and is frequently the star of a side dish that also includes other vegetables. It has excellent health benefits despite being a frequent condiment. Typically, vegetables like cabbage and radishes are fermented to create kimchi. It is made by immersing the veggies in a brine that helps preserve them by drawing out their fluids. To retain the desired flavor, fermentation with lactic bacteria is used. Since kimchi is fermented, it tastes sour and salty.

A food preservation technique, kimchi is a traditional Korean delicacy that dates back thousands of years. Kimchi, a mainstay of the Korean people, is prepared by varying the flavor of a base recipe by adding various spices. Both physical and mental health benefit from consuming more fermented foods. According to scientists, eating kimchi gives you probiotic bacteria that are good for your gut.

What is Kimchi

Korea has a very long history with kimchi. According to Dr. Julia Skinner, founder and director of Root, an Atlanta-based food history and fermentation company, “the dish’s earliest known records date from 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, when it was merely a preparation of salted vegetables, made during the harvest season to prevent food waste and keep the family fed in the winter. The dish’s component list grew over time as additional foods were made available, including more spices as well as a wider variety of vegetables and aromatics.

Although cabbage is the main component of kimchi, Skinner notes that it can also be made with other vegetables, such as daikon radishes, red peppers, and even occasionally fruits like apples. She points out that the variety of flavorings has increased, going from fish sauce to basic salt and from dried pepper flakes to gochujang (red chili paste). Although these components give kimchi its original flavor, the dish’s uniqueness comes from the science behind it.

Nutrition Facts of Kimchi

As per USDA,100g of kimchi offers:

  • Energy: 15 Kcal

  • Protein: 1.1 g

  • Carbohydrate: 2.4 g

  • Fibre: 1.6 g

  • Calcium : 33 mg

  • Iron: 2.5 mg

  • Magnesium : 14 mg

  • Potassium : 151 mg

  • Vitamin B6: 0.213 mg

Kimchi has a great flavor and offers important nutrients while having fewer calories. It contains a lot of minerals, B vitamins, and vitamin A. Interestingly, kimchi has a lot of antioxidants like beta-carotene that lower the risk of serious illnesses like cancer and stroke. Kimchi helps you keep healthy because it is abundant in nutritious ingredients and low in calories. Provitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese are abundant, and a study of the literature indicates that fermentation aids in the breakdown of substances that affect nutritional absorption.

Kimchi Health Benefits

Improves Gut Health

Strong data suggests that the fermented food kimchi can boost immunity by enhancing the wellbeing of beneficial bacteria. Additionally, consuming fermented foods enhances the health of your digestive system, which eases constipation. The probiotics in gut-friendly foods like kimchi are well recognized. Probiotics are microorganisms that can enhance your gut health, which can benefit your body’s general health.

Anti-Aging

Ever ponder why Koreans appear young? Antioxidants included in kimchi help shield the body from harm caused by free radicals. The strong antioxidant content of kimchi prevents skin aging. A crucial component of kimchi, garlic is a significant source of selenium. This mineral supports healthy skin and hair.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Kimchi consumption has favorable effects on body weight, BMI, and glucose regulation. However, it is still unclear how eating fermented kimchi supports these results. This point will be definitively clarified by further study.

 

Prevents Stomach Cancer

Carrots kimchi aid in the removal of toxic substances. Additionally, kimchi contains radish and cabbage, which have biochemicals that can aid in the removal of heavy metals. These specific bio-chemicals have been proved in studies to be able to prevent stomach cancer.

Reduces Inflammation

According to anecdotal evidence, the ingredients in fermented meals like kimchi can help with memory and cardiovascular health. Of course, having some inflammation would aid in the healing process after an accident, but persistent inflammation raises the chance of sickness.

Consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as kimchi, can help your body fight chronic inflammation. Inflammatory chemicals were shown to decrease and antioxidant levels to increase in mice fed kimchi, according to a study.

L. Plantarum, a probiotic isolated from homemade kimchi, was found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, according to a preliminary investigation. However, further research is required to fully comprehend how L. Plantarum KU15149 affects inflammatory responses in humans.

Helps Lower Cholesterol level

Kimchi contains a lot of garlic in addition to having a lot of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Selenium and allicin, which are abundant in garlic, actively contribute to the reduction of arterial plaque and the prevention of disorders like high blood pressure and stroke.

 

May aid weight loss

Kimchi can help you lose weight and is low in calories whether it is fresh or fermented. Eating fresh or fermented kimchi helped lower body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat, according to a 4-week study of 22 obese participants. The fermented variety also lowered blood sugar levels.

Remember that compared to those who consumed the fresh meal, those who consumed fermented kimchi showed noticeably bigger decreases in blood pressure and body fat percentage.

It’s unclear which aspects of kimchi—such as its low calorie count, high fiber content, and probiotics—are responsible for its capacity to aid in weight loss.

Health Risks of Kimchi

For those with a few food-related difficulties, kimchi is not the ideal choice. First of all, it has a lot of salt, so those who are susceptible to high blood pressure, stroke, or heart disease should certainly avoid it. (Kimchi has 1,232 mg of salt per dish. The World Health Organization advises people to limit their daily salt intake to 2,000 mg.

Additionally, a large amount of garlic is used in many kimchi recipes, which might have negative effects on those who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). According to Sophie Bibbs, an IBS and low FODMAP nutrition coach, “this is because garlic includes FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols).” “Despite the confusing nomenclature, they are all simply sugars that the gut is unable to properly absorb, which causes IBS sufferers to experience symptoms including gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. They can be particularly irritating because they are present in many foods, but they are concentrated very highly in garlic.”

The most significant kimchi-related issues, however, are more likely to affect individuals who consume a lot of the dish, which is not unusual in Korea, where kimchi is frequently served daily on top of steamed white rice. In fact, research show that high kimchi consumption is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer, the most prevalent type reported in the nation. Kimchi is also responsible for 20% of Koreans’ sodium intake. Experts are advising caution and moderation when eating this classic dish because the threat is so significant. “Korean public health experts have been pushing for a decrease in the intake of salty foods. One strategy is to just cut the amount of salt in kimchi given how significant it is to the culture “states Hutkins.

Hutkins says that although being terrifying, this scenario is extremely unusual, which is good news for infrequent kimchi eaters. “The typical daily consumption of kimchi in Korea, where it is a staple and is consumed two to three times daily, is about 100 grams, significantly more than in the United States. Therefore, the risk to the average buyer would be minimal and far outweighed by the advantages.”

There are a few things to keep in mind if you choose store-bought kimchi, according to Hutkins. First, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, several recipes may cause you problems because they call for bone broth. Additionally, if you use the store-bought variety, you might not find what you’re looking for. He adds that there are active choices available and says, “Some products are heat-treated for shelf-life reasons, so the bacteria are inactivated.” “One way to detect if a product has been heated is if it is on the shelf at normal temperature.”

This last piece of information can inspire you to create it yourself. Try one of these kimchi recipes if that’s the case. Most likely, you’ll enjoy it!