What exactly is kimchi and why is it a legendary Korean side dish? Kimchi is a dish of fermented vegetables (commonly cabbage and white radish) along with gochu (red pepper paste). Well known for its spicy flavor, it is the perfect compliment to a big bowl of rice.
Aside from being a part of Korean culture for centuries, kimchi eaters also reap incredible health benefits from this unique dish. Most westerners would not consider this dish a “super food,” or a nutrient-rich food, but when eating kimchi, you’ll reap many benefits.
Kimchi Health Benefits:
1. Lose Weight!
Kimchi is low in calories and low in fat: 30-40 calories per serving. With a vegetable base and natural spices, kimchi is a flavor filled, low calorie food. Like many spicy foods, the ingredient, capsaicin, found in chili peppers boosts your metabolism.
2. Look Younger!
That’s right, eating kimchi can help slow down the aging process. After the fermentation process, kimchi is packed with strong antioxidants. These antioxidants, when consumed, decrease the appearance of aging in the skin.
3. Lower Your Risk of Most Cancers!
As mentioned previously, kimchi is loaded with antioxidants that also stop the cellular chain reaction of oxidation and reduce the number of free radicals, possible cancer causing molecules, in the body.
4. Build Strong Bones!
Kimchi is packed with Vitamin A, a vitamin that aids in the formation and maintenance of teeth and bones.
5. Lower Your Cholesterol!
Garlic, a key ingredient in kimchi, contains selenium and allicin. Both of these chemicals work to clear plaque from artery walls and lower cholesterol levels.
6. Improve Your Digestion!
Similar to yogurt, kimchi is rich in probiotics that work with your digestive system and strengthen your immune system. Actually, some consider kimchi to be better than yogurt, as it contains other super foods like garlic, ginger, and red pepper.
7. Make Your Body Healthier!
Made with the noteworthy super foods, these nutrient packed ingredients in kimchi boost your nutrition intake and provide essential vitamins to strengthen your immune system.
How can all these amazing health benefits come from one tasty food? The secret lies in the kimchi-making process.
With fresh ingredients and the unique fermentation process, kimchi not only preserves the rich nutrients found in the natural ingredients, but also chemically enhances their nutritional benefits through the fermentation process.
Originally created to preserve vegetables throughout the cold Korean winters, kimchi recipes were passed down from generation to generation to ensure survival. Throughout history kimchi has evolved from preparation for surviving long winters to a staple Korean side dish.
But be sure to not to eat too much kimchi too quickly…
“We found that if you were a very, very heavy eater of kimchi, you had a 50% higher risk of getting stomach cancer,” said Kim Heon of the department of preventive medicine at Chungbuk National University and one of the authors. “It is not that kimchi is not a healthy food — it is a healthy food, but in excessive quantities there are risk factors.”
In excessive quantities a diet of high sodium and spiciness can increase your risk of gastric cancer. A high concentration of sodium and red peppers creates carcinogens, or cancer causing tissues. In combination with other spicy Korean foods, South Korea has the highest rate of stomach cancer in the world.
Cultural Component of Kimchi
But this drawback doesn’t keep the Koreans away from their kimchi. Labor intensive, the kimchi-making process symbolizes the struggles and triumphs of the Korean people throughout their history.
More than just the preparation of food a mother sharing her family recipe with the new daughter-in-law welcomes the daughter-in-law to the son’s family.The taste of kimchi at a social gathering dictates the atmosphere of the evening; with a delicious taste creating a relaxed, carefree atmosphere.
A staple of Korean culture, kimchi deliciously symbolizes Korean tradition and culture.
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