Over the past few years, South Korean culture has made waves globally with the rise of Korean dramas and K-pop. With this, people are becoming more familiar with the flavors of the country—starting with the oh-so-popular kimchi. This fermented side dish is famous for its antioxidant properties, which give South Koreans healthy and radiant skin. With more and more Filipinos eating Korean food on a regular basis, here are some of the health benefits of kimchi that you should know about.
What is kimchi?
Kimchi is a staple dish in every South Korean household. It is traditionally made by fermenting vegetables in a mixture of Asian chives, carrots, onions, gochugaru (chili powder or flakes), ginger, garlic, red pepper, salt, sugar, puréed anchovies or salted shrimp, and fish sauce. Originally made for the winter season, kimchi is stored in traditional brown ceramic pots called onggi and buried underground for two weeks to over a year.
There are about 100 variations of kimchi, such as kkakdugi (cubed radish), chonggak (ponytail radish), oi sobagi (cucumber), and baek kimchi (white kimchi). The most famous version of kimchi is the baechu-kimchi or fermented napa cabbage.
What are the health benefits of kimchi?
Apart from its sour, spicy flavor that goes well with any meal, kimchi offers a lot of health benefits.
It boosts your immune system
Kimchi has lactobacillus, which helps boost your immune system by fighting off infections. Also, kimchi is naturally anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants, which get rid of free radicals and keep the immune system strong.
It improves digestive health
Perhaps the least surprising of the health benefits of kimchi is its effect on the digestive system. Fermented foods like kimchi can improve intestinal health by regulating the levels of good bacteria in the gut. These may help reduce the occurrence of diarrhea and constipation. The probiotics in kimchi can also assist the digestive system in absorbing nutrients from the food you eat.
It regulates cholesterol levels
Researchers from Pusan National University in Korea conducted a study with 100 volunteers. To start, the participants were divided into two groups and given identical meals but with different amounts of kimchi. After a week, both groups showed drops in their cholesterol levels even if one group had more kimchi than the other.
In conclusion, the study found that eating kimchi can help lower cholesterol, even in small amounts. Healthy cholesterol levels lower your risk for heart diseases and strokes in the future.
It decreases your risk of obesity and helps with weight loss
The lactic acids present in kimchi help decrease body fat. This, when coupled with exercise and a balanced diet, can reduce the risk of obesity. Meanwhile, certain ingredients in kimchi (like hot pepper) contain capsaicin, which can improve metabolism by increasing energy expenditure and burning fat and calories. Also, capsaicin is a natural appetite suppressant.
It promotes healthy skin and shiny hair
One of the health benefits of kimchi is its ability to make the skin healthy from the inside-out. The garlic found in kimchi contains a mineral known as selenium, which helps minimize skin damage and reduce inflammation caused by harmful environmental factors like ultraviolet rays. Similarly, selenium improves hair health by killing dandruff-causing fungus.
It helps with aging
Kimchi is a great source of antioxidants that protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, which speed up aging signs by damaging the skin’s DNA.
It protects your body from peptic ulcers
One of the lesser known health benefits of kimchi is its ability to prevent peptic ulcers. The Leuconostoc mesenteroides found in kimchi can deter the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes peptic ulcers.
It may fight off yeast infections
According to preliminary studies, Kimchi’s antimicrobial properties can strip the body of Candida fungus, which triggers yeast infections. However, additional research is still needed to further back up these claims.
Korean pop culture has definitely made an impact in the Philippines. One of the most beneficial things that Filipinos have picked up from Korean culture is the love for kimchi. Not only is it a tasty side dish, but it also has nutritional components that help the body stay healthy.
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.