Kimchi is one of the the lacto-fermented foods that I must learn in my lifetime. Kimchi is that tangy lacto-fermented food that is a staple among Koreans. It may be the secret to their svelte figure and clear skin — enough reason to get this food into our system, right? But then there are other health benefits it offers as well.
I love my Sauerkraut and my Curtido but I love the taste of Kimchi more. It’s a spicy, tangy, umami-rich and crunchy all-veggie dish that’s wallowing in rich and spicy red sauce. My Korean friends tell me there are about a hundred variations to the Kimchi recipe, with each region in Korea boasting of a specific flavor, yet the one I recently tasted, made and given by a Korean friend, beats all the other Kimchi I’ve tried. In fact, my Korean friend and I are on to making Kimchi soon. I will hang on to her every word during the tutorial, for sure. I can’t wait to churn Kimchi by my own and have a jar of it in my ref at all times.
Kimchi is lacto-fermented napa cabbage (Filipinos call it Chinese cabbage, however) and consists of other spices and seasonings such as garlic, ginger, onions, green onions, chili pepper and fermented seafoods for an umami-rich taste. The dish is native to Korea and has been developed in the 7th century.
Nutritional profile of Kimchi
- Low in calories
- High in fiber
- Rich in Vitamins: A, B1, B2, C
- Rich in Minerals: iron, calcium, selenium
- Teeming with probiotic Lactobacillus bacteria
- Packed with antioxidants such as capsaicin, chlorophyll, carotenoids, flavonoids and isothiocyanate
Health benefits of Kimchi
On the digestive system
Like all lactofermented foods, Kimchi provides high doses of healthy lactobacillus bacteria which keep the gut microbiome in good shape. Some good bacteria actually fix nutrients and make them more absorbable into the bloodstream. Cabbage in itself is already an established high-fiber cruciferous vegetable which can clean the gut of toxins and wastes.
On blood cholesterol levels
Kimchi has lots of garlic and we know garlic as an effective cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-reducing spice, owing to its allicin component.
Lactofermented foods are raw as they have not undergone heat and as such are naturally rich in antioxidants which scavenge for harmful free radicals in the body. Kimchi is thus an anti-inflammatory food and confers benefits on the whole body as inflammation is behind most degenerative diseases including cancer.
As mentioned, kimchi is simply cabbage plus spices and herbs which are all fibrous. Fiber is of course a proven aid in weight maintenance and loss. Capsaicin in red chili pepper also revs up metabolism for more efficient fat-burning. On top of that, good bacteria in lactofermented foods suppress appetite and control blood glucose levels. However, it must be noted that for kimchi to effect weight loss, it must comprise a significant proportion of the diet. Koreans, for example, eat kimchi at almost every meal.
On the immune system
Fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, good bacteria and all the other substances present in raw cabbage, garlic, ginger, onions and red chili pepper make kimchi a powerfood. Koreans report robust health when they’re in their default diet of kimchi and say they come down with flu whenever they get off that diet during overseas travel, for example.
The American Health magazine has listed kimchi as among the world’s healthiest foods. It is so nourishing, immunoprotective, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-mutagenic. It is also darn cheap and tasty too. I hope to incorporate this ancient Korean food into my diet.