A Korean culinary staple, Kimchi originated over 3,000 years ago, according to Syn, as a preservation system to keep the food fresh for an extended period. Mostly, people don’t follow a recipe for it. They add dashes of different spices in their homes to create distinct flavors.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi, the national food of South Korea, is a spicy pickled vegetable dish. This is traditionally made by combining cabbage, scallions, or radishes in a brine with garlic, ginger, chili pepper, and fish sauce allowing the ingredients to ferment. It has a rich history in South Korea, dating back more than two thousand years.
Kimchi offers various health benefits. It is abundant in minerals, vitamins, and essential nutrients. The key ingredients in Kimchi that make it healthy are ginger and garlic. However, Kimchi is fermented, which makes it acidic. The microorganisms break down the carbohydrates in vegetables, where the tangy taste comes in. Nevertheless, it has some impressive health benefits backed by research.
Ingredients for Kimchi
The main ingredient in it is most often cabbage. Traditional Korean one uses baechu, which is also known as napa cabbage.
It doesn’t have to be spicy, but most traditional recipes use Korean chili flakes called gochugaru or sometimes a chili paste called gochujang. The chili is blended into a paste with garlic, ginger, and often a small amount of rice flour mixed with water. People often add fish sauce or salted preserved shrimp, which bring a savory “umami” flavor and may help fermentation.
If you want to make vegan version of it, you can leave these out or substitute them for miso.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
Kimchi’s vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can provide essential health benefits. Choline, found in it, is a natural compound vital for maintaining your cells, muscles, nervous system, and mood. Choline is also essential for maintaining your memory. It is also rich in vitamin K, which helps your blood clot and keeps your bones from becoming brittle.
Some other health benefits of Kimchi include:
- Improve Digestive Health. Kimchi is a fermented food, which makes it an excellent probiotic. The same lactobacilli bacteria in yogurt and other fermented dairy products are found in it. Consuming it’s so-called “good bacteria” can help you maintain healthy digestion. Eating the probiotics found in fermented food can help reduce the negative symptoms of many gastrointestinal disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and colon inflammation. Maintaining a healthy gut flora is essential to your overall health.
- Protect Your Heart. Probiotics have been shown to improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and inflammation. Studies show that it can also reduce your risk of atherosclerosis through its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Immune System Support. Early research indicates it may be able to strengthen your immune system. The bacteria that help ferment it have been connected to improved immune function and lower levels of inflammation triggered by disease. The vitamin C found in it can also help boost your immune health.
Nutritional Profile of Kimchi
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
Risk and Side Effects of Kimchi
- Pathogenic Bacteria. Kimchi has several health advantages, but it still includes live germs. The microorganisms used to make it are entirely safe to eat. One must, however, create and store it appropriately. Otherwise, harmful bacteria may increase during fermentation and storage.
- Food Poisoning. Fermented foods are usually free of microorganisms that cause food poisoning. Because lactic acid is produced naturally during fermentation, it can aid in the control of any hazardous microorganisms that may be present. However, like other meals, Kimchi is susceptible to these dangerous microbes. According to studies, it can lead to E. coli and norovirus epidemics in the last ten years. People can reduce their risk of food poisoning by purchasing it from a reputable source and properly storing it.
- High Sodium Content. Kimchi has a high salt level. People at risk of high blood pressure should be concerned about this food’s high salt content. Therefore, they should consume it in moderation.