Is Kimchi Healthy? The Traditional Korean Food with Super Health Benefits

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A staple side dish on a Korean’s table, Kimchi is a famous food that’s well-loved all over the world. It is a delicious add-on to any food and its complex flavor can be reinvented to various meals. 

What is Kimchi?

Kimchi

Kimchi is a versatile dish and its ingredients vary. Typically, it’s a combination of vegetables, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, salt, and fish sauce. The most commonly used vegetable to make Kimchi is cabbage, but some other variations use carrots, radish, cucumber, and scallions, as well. 

Kimchi can be made at home or can be bought commercially. It’s very popular nowadays so it is most likely available in big grocery marts. However, if you have the time, it is recommended that you prepare your own to suit your preferences. It’s a bit time-consuming to prepare but once you’ve entered the fermenting phase, it’s mostly a waiting game. 

During fermentation, this is when kimchi will develop its flavors and nutritional profile.

When we say that kimchi is must-have in every Korean household, we are not exaggerating. Kimchi is served with almost every meal, from breakfast to dinner. It can be eaten by itself, as a side dish, or as an appetizer. It is also an additional ingredient for some dishes like Kimchi jjigae, a traditional stew, fried rice, stir-fry dishes, and noodles. 

What does kimchi taste like?

Kimchi has different tastes, according to the recipe. Though its main taste includes sour, spicy, and umami. All of these still depend on the ingredients used, the length of fermentation, and the amount of salt, sugar and other condiments used. 

Benefits of Kimchi

We’ve mentioned just how kimchi is well-loved by different nationalities. But not only are they loved for their complex taste but also for the health benefits they bring. 

Nutrients-packed

Kimchi is a dish jampacked with nutrients. A common and one of the main ingredients of kimchi is Chinese cabbage which is an excellent source of Vitamin A and C, and at least 10 different essential minerals. 

Aside from Chinese cabbage, kimchi’s other ingredients include green vegetables, such as celery and spinach, which are sources of Vitamin K and riboflavin. Vitamin K plays a vital role in many bodily functions, such as bone metabolism and blood cutting. Riboflavin helps regulate energy production, cellular growth, and metabolism. 

Has probiotics

The creation of kimchi goes through a process called lacto-fermentation, which extends its shelf life and even enhanced its taste and aroma. Lacto-fermentation uses the bacterium Lactobaccilus to break down sugars into lactic acid. This is what gives kimchi a sour taste. 

When taken as a supplement, Lactobacillus has health benefits, such as treating conditions like hay fever and diarrhea. 

The fermentation process also allows other good bacteria to multiply, such as probiotics. This is linked to the prevention and treatment of certain conditions like: 

  • Certain types of cancer
  • Common cold
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointensinal health
  • Heart and mental health
  • Skin conditions

Note: The findings in the conditions mentioned above include high doses of probiotic supplements and not the amount of serving found in kimchi. 

Downsides of kimchi

Kimchi is, generally, a healthy food. The biggest safety concern one must have with it though is food poisoning. If you are buying kimchi commercially, make sure you are purchasing from a reliable source, who knows how to properly store them to avoid adverse effects. 

Aside from that, kimchi is typically made spicy. If you are not a fan of spicy food, try eating kimchi in small portions or look for less spicy variations. Spiciness can trigger acid reflux, so if you are prone to one, might take note of how much kimchi you are consuming. 

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