Kimchi has survived as a popular staple of Korean cuisine for thousands of years. This spicy, savory vegetable dish has grown in popularity around the world, despite its pungent aroma while cooking, not only because of its amazing balance of salty, spicy, and sour flavors but because of its health benefits. All those Korean women burying pots of salted vegetables centuries ago knew what they were doing.
Take a look at some of the remarkable health benefits you can reap from eating Kimchi.
Kimchi Is Packed With Vitamins and Minerals
Popping that multivitamin pill every morning becomes less crucial when you eat Kimchi. All those vegetables deliver an impressive array of necessary vitamins, including many with antioxidant value. Expect to get plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamins B1 and B2 when you eat Kimchi. Are you looking for minerals as well? You can count on getting calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and selenium from Kimchi.
Kimchi is Low-Calorie and High in Fiber
The most popular version of Kimchi, made with napa cabbage, has a mere 15 calories per serving. For comparison, that means you can eat half a cup of Kimchi for the same calorie count as less than one-third of an Oreo cookie. In addition, Kimchi is high in fiber to keep your digestive system happy and healthy.
Kimchi is Packed With Probiotics
If you're tired of eating yogurt to get the probiotics your body needs, you'll be glad to hear that Kimchi is a very viable alternative. The fermentation process that helps lend Kimchi its great taste also creates all sorts of healthy bacteria, including Lactobacillus pantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, and other probiotic strains that promote digestive health by keeping your intestinal flora in balance and healthy.
Kimchi Promotes Good Digestion
The combination of all those probiotics and the high-fiber nature of Kimchi make your entire digestive system happy and keep you from getting constipated. And there's more: The cabbage used in most Kimchi has detoxifying qualities that help purge your system of toxins and wastes. That means your intestines are better able to assimilate the nutrients you take in, so they're not wasted.
Kimchi Has Lots of Capsaicin
The red chile peppers that give Kimchi its kick may only date back a few hundred years in the rich history of the dish, but they provide a welcome health benefit as well. The chemical capsaicin, which is what give peppers their spiciness, promotes pain relief, weight loss, heart and blood health, and yes, gastro-intestinal health once again.
Kimchi Promotes Weight Loss
Is it the capsaicin? Is it the fact that you're eating low-calorie vegetables when you could be eating higher-calorie foods? Maybe it's the way that lactobacillus bacteria helps lower blood sugar levels and control appetite. Regardless of how these factors work together, studies show that Kimchi helps people decrease their percentage of body fat, their BMI (body mass index), their waist-to-hip ratio (an important measurement in cardiovascular health), and their overall body weight, all of which are factors involved with metabolic syndrome. In addition, all that fiber in Kimchi helps you feel full so you're less tempted to overeat.
Kimchi Helps Regulate Cholesterol
The garlic used in Kimchi is very helpful in lowering cholesterol. In fact, university studies in Korea show that eating Kimchi not only lowers cholesterol, it also helps lower so-called "bad" (LDL) cholesterol as well as blood sugar. The heroes here are the selenium and allicin in the garlic, both of which lower cholesterol and help keep plaque from building up in the blood vessels. As an added bonus, garlic appears to have a role in controlling the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which has been linked to stomach cancer.
Kimchi Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Research studies show that Kimchi lowers blood glucose levels, thereby lowering the risk of diabetes. In addition, Kimchi also helps to improve other metabolic factors, including insulin function. Those who eat Kimchi show lower levels of fasting glucose and improved glucose tolerance. The effects are even stronger when Kimchi is part of a low-fat diet.
Kimchi Is Often Packed With Antioxidants
Not only does Kimchi have the antioxidant vitamins working on behalf of your health, those red pepper seeds in many versions of Kimchi add to the antioxidant load. Those antioxidants help protect your body from the oxidation and other damage caused by free radicals Those red pepper seeds are also packed with flavonoids and phenols that pitch in here.
Kimchi May Boost the Immune System
Studies in mice show that some of the specific probiotics present in Kimchi can boost the body's production of IgA (immunoglobulin A), which is a key antibody involved in immune system response. Research also shows Kimchi helps encourage the growth of immune cells in the bone marrow, thymus and spleen. It's not clear yet how much these effects carry over from animals to humans, due to the small number of studies so far, so further research is needed. In addition to these probiotics, other ingredients typically present in Kimchi — think of garlic, ginger, and hot peppers — are well-known as having a beneficial effect where the immune system is involved.
Kimchi May Reduce the Inflammation Involved With Atopic Dermatitis
A recent study in Korea indicates that the lactobacillus bacteria in Kimchi may reduce inflammation and suppress atopic dermatitis, a dermatological ailment that results in swelling and lesions on the skin. It appears that Kimchi has a therapeutic effect that's beneficial to sufferers of atopic dermatitis, though more study is needed to understand the biological mechanisms involved here.
Kimchi Has Anti-Aging Factors
All those antioxidants in Kimchi, including vitamin C, help keep inflammation under control, which in turn helps prevent the speeding up of the aging process. In addition, studies on Kimchi indicate that it shows signs of reducing stress on cells caused by oxidation as well as inhibiting the peroxidation of lipids, both of which are implicated in aging.
Kimchi May Fight Cancer
The cabbage used in most Kimchi is filled with flavonoids that have been shown to keep cancer cells from growing. Also in cabbage are many glucosinolates, which are also effective in preventing the growth of malignant cells.
Kimchi Helps Reduce Gastric Ulcers
Remember those Helicobacter pylori bacteria that are implicated in stomach cancer? They also cause peptic ulcers and gastritis. The Lactobacillus bacteria in Kimchi fight these bacteria, resulting in a therapeutic effect.
Isn't it great to know that the Korean dish you already enjoy is so good for you? Adding Kimchi to your diet on a regular basis makes meals more pleasant and your body more healthy.
Copyright Vermont Fermenters 2019