Historically, it wasn’t possible to have access to fresh vegetables year-round. We must remember that fridges are a relatively new invention, and people used to transport goods via horseback. During this time pickling and fermentation was used to preserve foods for long periods of time.
Kimchi is one such food. Kimchi is a traditional Korean condiment made with salted, fermented vegetables. It typically contains cabbage and seasonings like sugar, salt, onions, garlic, ginger, and chilli. Some people also choose to add other vegetables including radish, celery, carrot, cucumber, eggplant, spinach, scallions, beets, and bamboo shoots.
Kimchi can be eaten immediately upon preparation or eaten after a few days to weeks of fermentation. Kimchi is not only a delicious addition to many meals, but it also offers a large variety of health benefits.
Here are 9 benefits of kimchi
1. NUTRIENT DENSE
Kimchi is packed with nutrients whilst being low in calories. Cabbage, the main ingredient in kimchi, particularly high in vitamin A, C and K. It also contains high levels of manganese, B6 and folate.
A 1-cup serving of kimchi provides 21% of the daily recommended intake of iron, making it a great food to include for those following a plant-based diet.
2. CONTAIN PROBIOTICS
The lacto-fermentation process that kimchi undergoes makes it particularly unique. Fermented foods not only have an extended shelf life but also an enhanced taste and aroma. Fermentation occurs when starch or sugar is converted into an alcohol or acid by organisms like yeast or bacteria.
Lacto-fermentation uses the bacterium Lactobacillus to break sugars down into lactic acid, which gives kimchi its characteristic sourness. Lactobacillus bacteria has been shown to help reduce hayfever and diarrhoea, and protect against candida overgrowth. Consuming fermented foods also support the health of many other strains of beneficial bacteria within the gut, and this can have a positive influence on the prevention of cancer, cold and flu, constipation, cardiovascular disease, skin conditions and mental health problems.
3. STRENGTHENS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
The Lactobacillus bacterium in kimchi may boost your immune health. In a mouse study, those injected with Lactobacillus plantarum — a specific strain that’s common in kimchi, demonstrated lower levels of TNF alpha, which becomes elevated when the body is fighting an infection or disease. Lower levels of this inflammatory market show that the immune system is working efficiently.
4. REDUCES INFLAMMATION
A recent mouse study revealed that HDMPPA, one of the principal compounds in kimchi, improved blood vessel health by suppressing inflammation. In a similar study, kimchi given daily for 2 weeks led to a decrease in inflammation-related enzymes
5. MAY SLOW AGING
Chronic inflammation is not only associated with numerous illnesses, but it also accelerates the ageing process. Kimchi possibly prolongs cell life by slowing this process. In a test-tube study, human cells treated with kimchi demonstrated an increase in viability, which measures overall cell health — and showed an extended lifespan regardless of their age.
6. PREVENTS YEAST INFECTIONS
Kimchi’s probiotics and healthy bacteria may help prevent yeast infections. Vaginal yeast infections occur when the Candida fungus, which is normally harmless, multiplies rapidly inside the vagina.
Multiple strains isolated from kimchi display antimicrobial activity against Candida albicans which is great news given the growing resistance this pathogen is showing to antibiotics.
7. AIDS WEIGHT LOSS
A 4-week study in 22 people with excess weight found that eating fresh or fermented kimchi helped reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat. Additionally, the fermented variety decreased blood sugar levels. The study also demonstrated improvement in blood pressure.
8. SUPPORTS CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Research indicates that kimchi may reduce your risk of heart disease, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. A recent study fed mice a high cholesterol diet for 8 weeks and the researchers observed that fat levels in the blood and liver were lower in those given kimchi extract compared to the control group. Kimchi extract also appears to suppress fat growth, which also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A weeklong study in 100 people found that eating 0.5–7.5 ounces (15–210 grams) of kimchi daily significantly decreased blood sugar, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels — all of which are risk factors for heart disease
9. EASY TO MAKE AT HOME
Though preparing fermented foods may seem like a daunting task, making kimchi at home is fairly simple. To learn more about how to make this incredible delicacy then please attend our next Gut Health Masterclass event – where we’ll take you through how to make kimchi quickly and simply inside your own home.