The kimchi craving: too spicy to stomach, or good for your gut? Should you add this ubiquitous staple of the Korean table to your diet?
by Fit-n-spicy Mochi
Kimchi: It’s spicy, it’s a veggie, and it’s no secret it’s in every Korean home. But can it really be considered a health food?
The average Korean consumes about 40 pounds of it a year. Think about it – 1,400 years of this banchan (side dish) can’t be wrong!
Most types of kimchi are seasoned and fermented Napa cabbage (baechu). Seasonings may vary, as may the addition of other vegetables. But, at its most basic, kimchi is chili and salt massaged between the leaves of whole Napa cabbage and set to ferment anywhere from a few days to several months.
It’s spicy, but the heat factor can vary greatly. It runs the range from slightly sweet to quite sour.
It’s an unexpected combination of crunchy and wilted textures.
It’s one of those cultural foods where everyone’s grandma has a secret family recipe! You can find hundreds of recipe variations online and perhaps equally as many in jars lining the kimchi section of a Korean grocery store.
In a typical Korean household or restaurant, kimchi can make an appearance at every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner!
And these days, kimchi isn’t just a banchan. You can find it on and in everything. It’s on the expected foods, like soups, stews, and fried rice, to the unexpected, like pancakes, pizza, tacos, and poutine!
So, in addition to being spice-fully delicious, what’s so great about this side-dish? Check out these health facts.
First of all, it’s high in fiber and low in fat, sugar, and calories.
Secondly, it’s chock full of essential amino acids, vitamins (A, B-1, B-2 and C), minerals (iron, calcium, selenium), and antioxidants.
But wait, there’s more…
The fermentation process creates lactobacilli bacteria (like in yogurt) that promotes digestion and keeps your gut healthy. Cabbage itself is known for its detoxification qualities. A healthier, cleaner gut will better absorb and assimilate nutrients into the body.
In addition to digestive health, numerous studies link the consumption of fermented kimchi to lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks. This nutrient-rich cabbage may help support the immune system and stave off or aid in the fight against infections, colds and flu.
With all the “goodies” contained in this food, it’s no wonder it’s also linked with reducing the risk for certain cancers and for having anti-aging properties!
So if you’re new to kimchi, before taking a sniff and turning your nose up at it, give it a try with all these wonderful health benefits in mind. Remember, there’s a ton of different variations as well, so if one type doesn’t get you drooling for more, keep giving it a try!
If you’re already a kimchi lover, yay for you! You’ve been doing your body good while you enjoy what centuries and generations of Koreans have been healthfully benefiting from!
Fit-n-spicy Mochi is a foodie fitness instructor.
“I work out because it’s good for me. Also because I like to eat. A lot.”
“The world is full of deliciousness, taste it!… Then go exercise!”
OrganicFacts.net – Health Benefits of Kimchi
Health.com – World’s Healthiest foods – Kimchi (Korea)
Articles.mercola.com – The Tangy Tasty Superfood Korean Families Eat with Every Meal