Kimchi is a well-known traditional Korean side dish around the world. It is commonly composed of Chinese cabbages or other leafy vegetables fermented with the use of Lactic Acid Bacteria. Kimchi can be seen in almost all Asian restaurants worldwide.
Kimchi is one of the oldest known ethnic dishes originating from Korea. Kimchi has been present as early as the early period of the Three Kingdoms in Korea (37 BC-7 AD). Kimchi has been seen mentioned in ancient journals dating thousands of years ago. (1)
This is why it is deeply ingrained in the history and culture of Koreans and other Asian societies. It is only recently that people are starting to realize that other than Kimchi’s unique and delicious taste, it also holds the potential in being a nutritious part of our daily meals.
Most of these health benefits come from the vegetable and bacteria used to ferment Kimchi. Take a look at 10 health benefits that you can get from Kimchi according to science:
1. Consuming Kimchi Regularly Helps Improve Your Digestive System
Let us start with one of the most obvious benefits of most fermented dishes. Kimchi contains millions of lactobacilli also known as the “good bacteria”. This is because of the process of how it is made and prepared.
Lactobacilli are bacteria that normally live in our digestive system and help us digest the food we eat. Too much stress in our environment more often than not causes the lactobacilli count in our body to drop which could lead to indigestions or sometimes diarrhea. (2)
Kimchi due to its fermentation contains enough of this good bacteria to replenish our bodies supply. Coupled with the fiber from the leaves and vegetable that Kimchi is made of, you can assure that eating Kimchi will protect you from diseases such as constipation and indigestions.
Some researchers have also shown that lactobacillus has the ability to fight off common food borne pathogens in our digestive tracts. Kimchi antimicrobial property is sure to ward us against uncomfortable and deadly gastrointestinal diseases. (3)
Key Takeaway: If you are experiencing trouble in eating or defecating, Kimchi with its high fiber content and millions of lactobacillus will surely cure you in no time. Make sure to include this in your daily diet to maintain a healthy stomach and digestive system.
2. Eating Kimchi Daily Will Improve Your Immunity
Research have shown that seventy-five percent of our immune system exists in our digestive system due to the food we eat and the drinks we take. Because of this, some researches have linked probiotic rich foods like Kimchi can help increase our overall immunity. (4)
Improving our immunity through the food we eat will increase our defenses against all types of bacteria. This is because of the fact that the digestive system is our first defense from foreign objects that enter our body through our mouth.
Kimchi is also one of the ingredients of red pepper. Red pepper, just like any other peppers, is known to have anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties.
Cabbage, on the other hand, has been scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that also helps boost our immunity. Cabbage in Kimchi is known to have biochemical such as sulfide and isocyanate which are known to have antimicrobial properties.
Key Takeaway: Our immune system is one of the most important parts of our body. Without it, we will be prone to a lot of diseases which would easily cause our death. Luckily, a lot of the ingredients in Kimchi can help boost and strengthen our immune system.
3. Kimchi Is A Low Calorie Dish That Can Reduce Your Food Cravings
Korean in their early history are very strict when it comes to their health. That is why a lot of their dishes are primarily composed of vegetables and healthy foods such as tofu and Kimchi.
That is why Kimchi was one of their favorite dishes because all of Kimchi’s ingredients are jam packed with nutrients but are all low in calorie. Kimchi is mainly composed of vegetables such as cabbage or radishes.
Both of which are high in satiating fiber, or fibers that easily make you feel as if your stomach is full. Probiotics are also known to play a part in weight reduction and stopping sugar addiction. (6)
Recent studies have shown that improving the good bacteria in our gut, such as lactobacillus, can help the body regulate the cholesterol it absorbs through the digestive tract. Lactobacillus from Kimchi has even been seen as a powerful weapon against obesity. (7)
Many have speculated that this may be the reason why the obesity and overweight population in Korea seem to be very low compared to other countries.
Key Takeaway: Kimchi is a healthy and delicious way to lose weight and at the same time improve your gastrointestinal tract health.
4. Kimchi Can Provide You Antioxidants To Fight Cancer
Kimchi is filled with ingredients and spices that are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They are also known to be cancer preventing foods because of their ability to promote our bodies overall health.
Cabbage, for example, can contribute a lot of compounds that are naturally anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. Adding this to your diet would surely help you fight off harmful diseases such as cancer. Cabbage in Kimchi also contains indole-3-carbinol which is a powerful drug against colon cancer.(8)
Garlic, radishes, scallions, ginger and red peppers are also high in components that are antioxidants that are also anti-inflammatory in their nature. Anti-inflammatory dishes are important in preventing diseases associated with our body’s oxidation, such as cognitive disorders, coronary artery diseases, or cancer. (9)
Capsaicin coming from chili peppers such as red pepper that is used in the production of Kimchi have been shown to aid our body’s defense against lung cancer. Allicin, which comes from garlic, has also been proven to battle the causes of stomach, liver, and thyroid cancer. (10)
Key Takeaway: Cancer can scare us to do a lot of the things we want to in our lives. Kimchi can help us fight this fear, and have a more enjoyable and cancer free life!
5. Eating Kimchi Can Dramatically Slow Down The Aging Process
Growing old or worse, looking old is one of the scariest inevitable things that people come to face. It scares us because of our fear of death and the judgment of our appearance by the people around us.
Sadly, the increase in stress and pollution that people are experiencing from work and the environment aren’t making things better but worse. That is why we are frantic to find ways to both extend our lives, youth, and looks.
The best-known solution to rapid aging are antioxidants that our body can absorb from the food we eat or pharmaceutical drugs that we can buy in pharmacies. Do you ever wonder why Koreans always look as if they have ivory white and silk smooth skins? Researchers have, and a lot of them pointed to the diet that most Koreans have.
All Koreans eat one thing in common, that’s right, Kimchi. Researchers have speculated that the antioxidant properties of the ingredients used in making Kimchi are responsible to this seemingly fountain-of-youth that all Koreans have. (11)
Key Takeaway: If you want to look young most of your life, then eating Kimchi is perfect for you. Get that perfect skin Koreans always boast about!
6. Kimchi Can Help You Prevent Peptic Ulcer
Peptic Ulcer refers to sores or ulcers between our stomach and our small intestines. It is often caused by the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria often enter our body through the things we eat. (12)
Some symptoms of Peptic Ulcer include bloating, nausea, heart burn, or vomiting. In some sever cases it can manifest in the form of dark or black stool, weight loss, vomiting blood, or severe pain in the upper abdomen.
Two-thirds of the world population are infected with H. Pylori. Thus, a lot of us are prone to having Peptic Ulcer. If it is left untreated, peptic ulcer can lead to bleeding and perforation or tear of the stomach wall. This can in some cases can also lead to death.
The fermentation of Kimchi causes Kimchi to contain leuconostoc mesenteroides also known as lactic acid bacteria. It is a bacteria which is known to produce dextrin, which is an anti-microbial substance that is used to stop the growth of Helicobacter Pylori in our bodies. (13)
Key Takeaway: There is a 60 percent chance that you are already infected with Helicobacter Pylori, this means that if you do not take care of your health there is a big chance for you to get peptic ulcer. It would be best for us not to risk it and add Kimchi as part of our regular meals.
7. Kimchi Has Been Found To Decrease The Cholesterol In Our Bodies
A Korean study has recently found evidence that support claims that eating Kimchi as a daily part of your meals can help in keeping cholesterol and glucose levels in our body in a perfect balance.
Researchers from Pusan National University in Korea subjected 100 young men as samples for the study. The young men were then divided into two groups. One group were fed a large amount of Kimchi, about half a pound, and the other group was given a smaller dose, half, and ounce. (14)
They consistently did this for a week then tested the blood of all 100 students. Remarkably, both groups received almost the same amount of dip in their cholesterol levels. Suggesting that even small amounts of Kimchi can greatly benefit our hearts.
It has also been published in the Journal of Medicinal foods, which was published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., that a research has proven that its subjects that ate the fermented cabbage dish Kimchi saw a drop in their body’s total cholesterol level, Low Density Lipoproteins (or “bad cholesterol”) and blood glucose levels after just a week of taking part in the research.
Key Takeaway: If you are a regular eater of Kimchi, whether it is in large amounts or not, you can rest assure that you have lower chances of getting heart diseases than those that do not.
8. Eating Kimchi Daily Can Prevent Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease wherein your blood sugar, or blood glucose, levels are higher than normal. Glucose in our bodies come from the sugar in the food we eat. Insulin, on the other hand, is in charge of breaking down the glucose particles for our body to absorb and turn into energy.
In type 1 diabetes patients, their bodies are not able to make enough insulin to break down the glucose. While in type 2 diabetes patients, the more common type, their bodies can produce enough insulin, however, their organs cannot make use of the insulin well. (15)
Diabetes has become one of the human race’s most common long-term diseases. It has been estimated that 415 million people worldwide already have diabetes, meaning 1 in 11 adults can have diabetes. Worse, 46 percent of them do not even know it. (16)
Researches have shown that the antioxidant properties of Kimchi can significantly reduce the glucose in a person’s body. The same research says that this result shows that Kimchi can be a powerful weapon against diabetes in adults. (17)
The research has shown that in just four weeks of eating a healthy dose of cabbage based Kimchi, all subjects were seen to have higher levels of insulin and at the same time lower levels of glucose.
Key Takeaway: Diabetes is scary, but what is even scarier is knowing that you can prevent it but not doing so. Eating Kimchi can be a healthy and delicious way to keep diabetes at bay.
9. Eating Kimchi Can Help Reduce The Severe Symptoms Of Food Allergies
Most food allergies can be triggered by eating the smallest amounts of sea foods, milk, peanuts, fishes, wheat, and eggs. The allergy is triggered by certain proteins that the patient’s body has mistakenly decided as harmful.
If you have a food allergy, whenever you consume the smallest amount of the food which you are allergic to, your body signals your immune system to release chemicals known as histamines. This chemical then can cause swelling of the face, constriction of your airways, and more.
Some people can even have an allergy to whole groups of food, such as seafood, and egg based products. This prevents them from enjoying a lot of dishes thus reducing their opportunities to taste and enjoy most foods.
Recent studies that have been conducted that Kimchi was able to suppress one of the most dangerous symptoms of food allergy. The study which was published in 2010, showed that eating Kimchi before eating the food which you are allergic to has prevented the airways to constrict. (19)
It is theorized that the probiotics present in Kimchi were responsible for this positive outcome. More research is being done on this topic, however, this gives hope to people who are afflicted with deadly food allergies.
Key Takeaway: Studies are now getting closer to completely prove that eating Kimchi is beneficial for people with food allergies. If proven, allergy patients can now have a better way of life and more opportunities to try the food they love.
10. Kimchi Protects Our Body From Chemicals Coming From Plastics
Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is a very common chemical used to harden plastics that are used in very common things such as plastic drinking bottles, or disposable food containers. It can also be found in CD’s medical devices, the lining of canned foods, dental sealants, and much more.
Getting BPA in our body can cause a lot of problem for us. It can disrupt our hormonal levels, negatively impact the brains and behavior of developing infants and children, it can cause us cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes.
A study in 2007 by scientists, were able to prove the ability of a certain bacteria present in Kimchi in degrading Bisphenol A. This bacteria is a probiotic bacteria known as Bacillus pumilus. (21)
This shows that the benefits of Kimchi stretch beyond organic threats but also man-made ones such as BPA’s. With our ever advancing technology, it would soon be impossible to avoid these chemicals. Luckily, we can easily combat them by eating something as simple as Kimchi.
Key Takeaway: BPA’s are one of the most common chemicals humans are being exposed to every day. It can cause so much damage to our bodies unless we detoxify them with healthy foods such as Kimchi.
What To Look Forward To
Due to Kimchi’s popularity, it has been given the prestigious title of being South Koreas national food. Kimchi’s tangy and tasty has stolen the heart of, not just Koreans, but everyone in Asia and the rest of the world.
It was invented thousands of years ago, and still, new ways are still popping up on how to cook them. Kimchi has a long shelf life making it a perfect dish for a road trip or for any occasions.
With its versatile taste, Kimchi can be added into numerous dishes, from soups, noodles, or even rice meals. With Kimchi’s dozens of health benefits, you won’t even think twice before stuffing your mouth with it. You can never get enough Kimchi!
Try out these recipes to have a new way of enjoying your favorite Kimchi:
1. Homemade Kimchi
It would be unwise to go through other recipes if you have never tasted the original. Try this recipe out to experience the culture and history of Korea!
250 grams of wombok cabbage leaves
¼ teaspoon of Salt
3 tablespoons of Korean red pepper powder (sold in Asian markets)
Cut the carrot, celery, and green onions into thin strips.
Lay a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface and fold it at 45° for you to have a diamond shape.
Place the chopped vegetables in a rectangle at the center of the folded wrapper
Drop a spoon of Kimchi on top of the vegetables and place a piece of crab roll on top of the vegetables and add some chopped Chinese parsley.
Wet your fingers with clean water and spread some water around the edges of the spring roll wrapper.
Proceed to fold the wrapper to form a cylindrical shape covering the stuffing.
Preheat the oil to about 375 F.
Fry the spring rolls for about 7-10 minutes or until the look golden brown.
Dry excess oil with a paper towel and enjoy!
Best served with vinegar as dipping sauce.
5. Kimchi Fried Rice
It’s no secret, South East Asians like Koreans love rice! What better way to enjoy two of the best things in the world than to combine them? Meet the delicious Kimchi Rice!
1 1/2 tablespoon of oil
1/2 piece of yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 piece of small green pepper, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
1 cup of cabbage Kimchi
3 cups of cooked rice (loosened and refrigerated overnight)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 pieces of scallions, chopped.
Preheat the oil on high heat using a wok.
Sauté the onion, garlic, crushed pepper, and green pepper for about a minute.
Toss in the sliced cabbage Kimchi and cook for another minute.
Add in the rice and soy sauce. Continuously stir the rice to avoid it from getting burnt.
Cook on high heat until rice turns light brown and all ingredients are well combined.
Sprinkle the chopped scallions on top and add salt to taste.
Enjoy with an omelet egg on top!
6. Kimchi Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese with Kimchi sounds really interesting, but to spoil it for you, IT’S PERFECT! The acidity of the Kimchi compliments the saltiness of the cheese creating a fireworks of flavors in your mouth!
4 slices of your wheat bread
2 Tablespoons of softened butter
4 slices of meltable cheese
3/4 to 1 cup Kimchi, drained, patted dry, and chopped
Spread a thin slice of butter on one side of each bread. Make sure to cover-up up to the breads edges.
Heat a cooking pan over medium heat, then place two slices of bread butter-side touching the pan.
Next, place one slice of cheese to each piece of bread. Then put a layer Kimchi over the top of the cheese, then cover it again with another slice of cheese.
Let the bread cook on the pan until it becomes golden-brown and the cheese begins to melt. Adjust the heat of the stove accordingly to avoid burning the bread even before the cheese melts.
Place another slice of bread on top with the buttered side up. Gently flip the bread to cook the other side.
Cook the grilled cheese on the pan for another minute or so, or until the uncooked side also turns golden brown.
Gently squeeze the bread to help the ingredients stick together with the cheese.
Remove from the pan and let it cool before slicing and serving!
Wrapping It Up
Kimchi is world famous because of its light and delicious sour taste. It has been around way before the first stove was even invented. It became popular in Korea because of how easy it is to store and keep fresh.
You have probably tasted Kimchi in your local Asian restaurant before or one of your Asian friends probably brought some with them after a vacation in his or her hometown. But I bet that you have never thought about how much health benefits you’ve been receiving from eating Kimchi.
Kimchi is filled with probiotics, vitamins, and nutrients that are sure to protect you from both natural diseases and manmade harmful chemicals. Doing all this while blessing your taste buds with Kimchi’s culturally charged history!