Vegetables are a versatile food that can be eaten in different ways. They are commonly eaten fresh, but can also be fermented to make sauerkrauts and kimchi among others. Regardless of how you will eat your vegetable, it will definitely deliver some health benefits.
Popularly eaten in Korea, kimchi is a traditional dish made by fermenting cabbages with salt. Other seasonings added include garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, chili peppers, and onions. Apart from cabbage, other vegetables can be used, including bamboo shoots, scallions, eggplant, celery, carrot, radish, cucumber, beets, and spinach. Kimchi is usually fermented for a few days or weeks prior to eating; however, it can also be eaten fresh without fermenting. It is highly delicious and can help improve your health in many ways. This article explains the health benefits that come by eating kimchi.
1. Loaded with Nutrients
Kimchi is incredibly low in calories but loaded with beneficial nutrients. For instance, Chinese cabbage, which is one of the main ingredients in this dish, delivers vitamin A, vitamin C, more than ten minerals, and about 34 amino acids. Since Kimchi is made with varied ingredients it may be hard to arrive on the exact nutritional profile. The Food Data Central of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) database, however, approximates that a single serving of kimchi weighing 150 g contains 23 calories, 4 g of carbs, 2 g of protein, 2 g of fiber, less than 1 g of fat, and 747 mg of sodium.
It also contains 19 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin B6, 22 percent of the RDI for vitamin C, 55 percent of the RDI for vitamin K, 20 percent of the RDI for folate, 21 percent of the RDI for iron, 10 percent of the RDI for niacin, and 24 percent of the RDI for riboflavin. Vitamin K and riboflavin are usually found in abundance in green vegetables. Kimchi is made up of various green vegetables including celery, cabbage, and spinach, and for this reason, it is an excellent source of these two nutrients. Vitamin K is involved in different activities in your body such as blood clotting and bone metabolism. Riboflavin, on the other hand is involved in the growth of cells, production of energy, and metabolism.
2. Boasts Probiotics
The process of fermentation that kimchi is often made to undergo, adds to it a unique property. Fermented foods tend to have a longer shelf life and have a great taste and aroma. This process is usually aided by yeast, mold, or bacteria which breaks down sugar. Kimchi undergoes lacto-fermentation where a bacterium Lactobacillus converts sugar into lactic acid. This results to a characteristically sour taste that kimchi has. In supplemented form, Lactobacillus may help treat ailments like hay fever and diarrhea. Additionally, the fermentation process provides a conducive medium for the multiplication of healthy bacteria like probiotics, which may help support your digestive health. In fact, studies associate probiotics with many health benefits, including treatment of mental health, certain types of cancer, gastrointestinal health, heart health, constipation, and common cold. It is worth mentioning that these findings are limited to the use of probiotics in high doses. This calls for more human studies with the real amounts of probiotics found in kimchi.
3. May Boost Your Immunity
Eating kimchi is believed to improve your immune health, thanks to the bacterium Lactobacillus. One study on rats reported that Lactobacillus plantarum can significantly lower markers of inflammation, especially tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha). An elevation of TNF alpha is often seen during disease and infection. Therefore, its decrease signifies an improved efficient immune system. Another test-tube study also confirmed these findings.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
Your body often uses inflammation to protect itself from infections. However, a pronounced inflammation may compromise your immune system. Kimchi contains active compounds and probiotics which may help reduce inflammation. Evidence suggests that certain compounds in kimchi like HDMPPA in kimchi can boost the health of blood vessels by suppressing inflammation. However, more human studies are needed to confirm the anti-inflammatory properties of kimchi.
5. May Slow Aging
You and I cannot escape aging, but it can be slowed down. One thing that aggravates aging is chronic inflammation, which is also a cause of numerous ailments. Kimchi can slow the process of aging, thus extending cell life. Studies indicate that kimchi can increase cell’s viability and life span regardless of their age.
6. May Prevent Infections Including Yeast Infections
Kimchi is loaded with friendly bacteria and probiotics which may help treat and prevent yeast infections. A fungus Candida is typically considered a normal flora in the vagina. If it multiplies rapidly in the vagina, it can lead to vaginal yeast infection, which affects more thanthan 1.4 million people in the U.S every year. Unfortunately, this fungus is gradually developing resistance to antibiotics, one thing that is pushing researchers to opt for natural treatments. Evidence indicate that certain strains of Lactobacillus may help treat Candida.
7. May Promote Weight Loss
Both fermented and unfermented kimchi may aid weight loss as they are both low in calories. Studies suggest that eating fresh or fermented kimchi may help overweight people lose body fat, reduce body mass index (BMI), and body weight. Furthermore, fermented kimchi may help reduce blood sugar levels, improve blood pressure, and body fat percentage. It is speculated that the high fiber content in kimchi may be behind the weight loss effects.
8. May Improve Heart Health
Another health benefit of kimchi is its ability to protect your heart from diseases. Chronic inflammation is one of the main causes of heart disease, and since kimchi can reduce inflammation, it can help support heart health. Both animal and human studies indicate that kimchi extract can lower blood and liver fat levels. Additionally, kimchi extract can inhibit the growth of fat cells. Reducing fat in the blood and liver can prevent heart disease.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made by fermenting cabbage and other vegetables like celery and onions. The fermentation process increases friendly bacteria and probiotics, which makes kimchi great for your health. It may slow aging and aid weight loss, among other health benefits.