It is always a challenge for farmers to continue to grow fresh healthy vegetables throughout the year. But, sometimes, this continuous sowing and harvesting of fresh vegetables might prove to be difficult because of sudden changes in weather and due to atmospheric hazards. So, Koreans have developed a method to preserve vegetables, so that they retain all the exact nutrients almost through the entire year. One such preserved food is Kimchi.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi is a traditional Korean preserved food, made by fermenting and pickling vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, celery, scallions, beats, bamboo shoots or carrot and preserved with seasonings like salt, garlic, onion, ginger, and chilies. After seasoning, the vegetables are canned and fermented for days to several weeks. In some cases, people also prefer to savor this delicious food unpreserved, or immediately after preparation. This Korean food is just not full of flavors, but also offers many health benefits (1Trusted Source).
Health Benefits of Kimchi
1. Nutrient Rich:
Kimchi, since preserved, retains good amount of nutrients of all the vegetables annually. Chinese cabbage, the main ingredient of kimchi is a rich source of Vitamins A and C contains high amount of various minerals and over 34 amino acids.
The rich nutrient contents of kimchi are stated here:
- Vitamin C: 22% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 55% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate: 20% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 24% of the DV
- Sodium: 747 mg
- Iron: 21% of the DV
- Niacin: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin A
A one-cup serving of kimchi contains:
- Calories: 23
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 4 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 2 grams
Almost one cup or 150 grams of kimchi contains dense nutrients that are absent in many other vegetables. Kimchi contains the nutrients of a number of vegetables altogether that makes it more packed with nutrients, which may be lacking in any single green vegetable. Moreover, during fermentation, the nutrients released, helps in better absorption and metabolism in your body, thus helping to support your immune system (1 Trusted Source).
2. Regulates Digestion
Kimchi is an excellent source of probiotics and healthy, Lacto-fermented bacteria like lactobacillus, the same found in yogurt. Probiotics help to maintain better digestive health as it helps to maintain a healthy gut flora, by regulating the easy movement of stool through the digestive tract of your body and thus helps to keep you regular, while the bacteria produced due to fermentation of vegetables prevent symptoms like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and inflammation in the colo-rectal tract. Those who cannot digest milk or other dairy products can have kimchi as a supplement to gain the benefits of lactic acid produced by the lactic acid bacteria, even for treating fever or several types of diarrheas. (2 Trusted Source).
The fermented extracts of kimchi are also effective in treating several types of gastrointestinal disorders and constipation.
3. Maintains Heart Health
Preservatives and probiotics present in kimchi are highly beneficial for lowering the risks of bad cholesterol and stroke in people with cardiac problems. Recent studies have revealed that kimchi contains micronutrients and antioxidants that can reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis and chances of inflammation in your heart. A recent study has been carried out on rats in the US, which reveals that levels of saturated fats, adverse to heart health have gotten notably reduced in the blood and liver in those given kimchi extract than in people with a normal diet. In addition, the kimchi extract was found to reduce the growth of unnecessary fats in the blood (3 Trusted Source).
4. Supports Immunity
Recent studies have found that kimchi extracts are efficient in strengthening the proper immune system in your body. The lactic acid bacteria, or lactobacillus, formed during the fermentation of the vegetables has been proved to boost up the immune system of your body by significant proportions. It helps to fight against diseases and yeast infections by lowering the effects of inflammation in your body. Moreover, kimchi is a rich source of vitamin C that is also beneficial to boost your immune health. New experiments performed on mice show that those injected with Lactobacillus Plantarum — a specific species that are mostly found in kimchi and other fermented foods had significantly lowered the risk levels of developing the necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha), an inflammatory tumor, then the normal group. Levels of TNF alpha are often elevated when there are chances of infections and diseases in your body. A decrease in these levels indicates that the immune system is working efficiently. A test-tube study that isolated Lactobacillus Plantarum from kimchi similarly demonstrated that this bacterium has properties that can effectively boost up your immunity levels (4 Trusted Source).
5. Slows Down Aging
There may have been several reasons behind early aging, but chronic inflammation is a major factor in this case. Chances of inflammation are not only responsible for heart diseases or related illnesses but are also proved to have increased the process of aging significantly. Kimchi contains nutritional extracts that help slow and prevent the process of early aging. A recent experiment has shown that kimchi contains health extracts with benefits of anti-aging- human cells when treated with kimchi extracts, showed to increase the viability, which measures overall cell and skin health, as well as showed an extended life span regardless of their age (44).
6. Promotes Weight Loss
Kimchi, freshly fermented with the health benefits of a number of green, healthy vegetables, contains the least number of calories. So, if you are thinking of losing weight, do not forget to add up kimchi with your regular side dish. Experts say, in 22 people with excess weight, it has been found that those who had regularly taken fresh or fermented kimchi have been shown to have reduced body weight in observable proportions, along with their body mass indices (BMI), and excess fat. Moreover, the fermented variety decreased blood sugar levels and has been shown to improve circulation. (5 Trusted Source)
7. Fights Yeast Infections
The rich contents of probiotics in kimchi and healthy bacteria formed during preservation may help to prevent yeast infections. Candida fungus, a microbe responsible for developing vaginal yeast infections, which multiplies rapidly inside the vagina, can be fought against with the help of kimchi extracts. Each year, more than 1.4 million people in the United States are treated for this condition. As this fungus may be developing resistance to antibiotics, many researchers are looking for natural treatments. Recent studies and experiments carried out on animals like rats; suggest that certain species of Lactobacillus fight Candida. One test-tube study even found that multiple strains isolated from kimchi displayed antimicrobial activity against this fungus.(6 Trusted Source).
How Will You Have Kimchi?
Kimchi, besides being nutritional, is a delicious way to have a good number of vegetables in your everyday diet. Its sweet and sour taste must be a favorite for many. Though there is a proper way for preparing kimchi, this can be made by anyone at home easily. The vital step for making kimchi is to store it at a cool place with a stable temperature to allow it to ferment before unwanted bacteria grow over it. Kimchi can be simply as a side dish, or as an ingredient in other foods. Its sweet and tangy flavor is a delicious complement to savory Chinese foods, and it is often served with rich dishes or main courses to add contrast to a meal.
Listed are some ways to add kimchi to your diet:
- Add the kimchi mixture with hash browns or mashed potatoes
- Stuff or fill an omelet with kimchi
- Use kimchi as a side dish with any bowl of rice like fried rice or any other boiled grains
- Add kimchi as a filling in your sandwich.
- Make bibimbap with kimchi.
Prepare Kimchi at Home
Finely chop fresh vegetables of your choice, like carrot, radish, and onion, along with ginger, garlic, and sprinkle salt, rice flour, chili oil, chili powder or pepper flakes, fish sauce, and saeu-jeot (fermented shrimp) all over. Mix them well with the vegetables and let sit for 2 to 3 hours. Let the mixture ferment for at least 3 days at room temperature or up to 3 weeks at 39°F (4°C).
Some Concerns About Kimchi
Kimchi contains an exceptional nutrient-rich profile that provides a number of health benefits. But in some cases, the number of bacteria and probiotics present in it might be a subject of concern. If kimchi is not properly processed or stored, the preservatives and fermented ingredients in it can cause food poisoning that might lead to problems in digestion or can weaken the immune system.
Kimchi is a highly nutritional Korean food that has a number of health benefits. It sums up the nutrients from a good number of vegetables and comes with a sweet and sour taste that can be enjoyed all over the year.
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