Kimchi is basically a Korean dish that is prepared by fermenting the raw vegetables (primarily cabbage and radish) seasoned with a lot of spices. Initially, Kimchi was just a blend of vegetables with some salt. But, with time, new flavors were evolved that added richness to the dish. Its seasoning includes red hot pepper, ginger, garlic and you can even add a few spices on your own to mold it, suiting to your taste buds. The maximum benefits come from the presence of lactobacillus bacteria in it. The dish is low in calories and high in nutrition. It is a warehouse of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B2, B1 and C. The minerals like calcium and iron further increase its nutritive value. Kimchi can be added to scrambled eggs, stir fries, stews, and on top of baked potatoes to enhance the flavor. It makes a great pre-meal appetizer. The health benefits of eating Kimchi every day are enlisted below.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
1. Aids in Digestion
This is one of the best Kimchi health benefits. Since the Korean salad is made by fermenting the vegetables, it has abundant probiotics and so improves the health of your gut bacteria. Thus, it cleanses and protects the inner lining of the intestine (2). Fermentation improves the flavor of the seasoned vegetables. The lactobacillus bacteria keep your intestine healthy. Cabbage (the main ingredient of Kimchi) aids in the detoxification of the heavy metals. Kimchi is equally beneficial in curing the problem of constipation. It is alkaline in nature that prevents conditions like acidosis.
1) There are Kimchi benefits and risks as too much consumption of the dish may result in digestive problems like constipation and gastric cancer.
2) Include a small portion of Kimchi in your diet as the excess of fiber intake through Kimchi may cause gas or bloating.
2. Acts as an Antioxidant Agent
Kimchi contains numerous antioxidants which prevent the biological damage of tissues and DNA. The presence of phenols and flavonoids in Kimchi guard the body against the oxidative damage and free radicals (3).
3. Controls Cholesterol and Benefits Heart
The garlic in Kimchi enriches it with selenium and allicin. It plays a vital role in lowering the cholesterol levels and triglyceride. A study has shown that Kimchi has positive effects in reducing LDL cholesterol (4). A control in cholesterol level protects the body from cardiovascular disorders and other heart problems. The second powerful ingredient, selenium, prevents the plaque from being accumulating on the artery walls, thus protecting the body from atherosclerosis.
1) Patients facing a problem of high blood pressure must refrain from the dish due to its high salt content.
2) Always consult a dietitian before including Kimchi in your diet.
4. Cures Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease that causes rashes and itchy sensation, commonly observed in infants (5). Kimchi is equipped with lactobacillus bacteria, which makes it an effective tool in treating a variety of skin ailments. A study has shown that the healthy bacteria present in Kimchi heal dermatitis by curing inflammation. It also reduces allergens induced inflammation.
5. Helps Lose Weight
Lactobacillus is friendly bacteria that helps lose weight by reducing the urge for eating. It controls the appetite and blood sugar levels. Kimchi is a rich source of fiber (6). The fiber keeps the body full for longer durations preventing you from intaking calories through snacks and junk food. A study conducted on overweight patients has shown positive results in terms of weight loss. In addition to that, it improves metabolism that burns more calories, aiding in weight loss. The study showed a decrease in body mass index and body fat (7). Chili pepper consists of capsaicin that aids metabolism and is friendly for those who want to shed a few pounds.
6. Strengthens Immunity
Kimchi contains ginger, garlic, and pepper, which are great in boosting immunity. They are effective in combating infections and protecting the body from cold and flu. Along with that, the probiotic like lactobacilli improves the immune system (8). Probiotics are efficient in curing ailments like food allergies, chronic fatigue syndromes, bacterial vaginosis, hemorrhoids, etc. It has been found that consumption of Kimchi increases the number of antibodies and makes immune cells more active.
7. Prevents Cancer
Chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer carry a lot of side effects with them. Food derived anticancer agents are much more beneficial in treating the disease. The staple dish of Korea, Kimchi is power packed with nutrients, potent to heal the deadly disease of cancer. Components of the dish like ginger and garlic are said to possess anticancer and antimicrobial properties (9). Moreover, the lactic acid bacteria in Kimchi are also capable of keeping cancer at bay (10). Cabbage contains flavonoids, beneficial in suppressing the buildup of cancer cells. In addition to that, it also consists of glucosinolates which decompose into isothiocyanates, effective in reducing cancer growth. Along with that, Kimchi is particularly useful in treating colorectal cancers.
8. Treats Diabetes
Diabetes occurs when insulin is unable to function properly. A research has shown positive effects in reducing type-2 diabetes when treated with Kimchi (11). A study showed that the subjects who fed on Kimchi showed better glucose tolerance.
9. Heals Gastric Ulcers
Peptic ulcers and gastric ulcers are caused by H. pylori bacteria. A study carried in 2008 has shown that Kimchi contains a strain of bacteria that exhibits analgesic properties against H. pylori bacteria (12). Cabbage present in Kimchi is also good for curing stomach disorders and other ailments.
10. Keeps Your Brain Healthy
The gut and brain are interconnected. Fermented food keeps your stomach and digestive system in order, which maintains a clear mental vision and a strong focus. Microbes present in the fermented food release neurotransmitters that affect the brain. Kimchi being one of the fermented stuffs promotes brain health (13).
11. Shows Fibrinolytic Effect
Certain compounds are capable of preventing the blood from clotting. This property of working as an anticoagulant refers to the fibrinolytic effect. Kimchi produces a fibrinolytic effect on the body due to the presence of fibrinolytic enzymes (14).
12. Gives a Clear Vision
Kimchi contains beta carotene that gets converted into vitamin A on entering the body (15) (16). The vitamin is a potent antioxidant and is responsible for promoting a good vision. A serving of 100 gms Kimchi contains 18% of vitamin A.
13. Treats Tooth Decay
Kimchi is a probiotic containing health friendly bacteria and yeast. Probiotics play a major role in improving the oral health (17). They prevent the pathogens to get attached to the teeth and can protect the body from diseases like gingivitis.
14. Promotes Intestinal Health
Lactobacteria and bifidobacteria are friendly microorganisms that live in the intestine. Kimchi feeds these bacteria so that they can overshadow the harmful bacteria and keep us healthy. Lactobacteria prevents the sludge-like material from getting accumulated in the intestine. The presence of bifidobacteria in Kimchi helps synthesize the B vitamins that are significant for our health (18) (19).
15. Protects Neurons
The nerve cells are the main elements of the spinal cord and the brain of the central nervous system. Consumption of Kimchi shields these neurons. According to a study, the lactobacillus bacteria found in Kimchi increases the production of GABA. Along with this, consumption of Kimchi shields these neurons from neurotoxicant-induced cell death (20).
16. Prevents Pesticide Poisoning
A study has shown that the microorganisms developed in Kimchi as a result of fermentation degrade the organophosphorus bacteria. The bacteria was degraded by the 3rd day and by the 9th day, it got completely deteriorated (21).
17. Eradicates Harmful Organisms From the Body
The strains of lactobacillus extracted from Kimchi have shown an antimicrobial effect against several food-borne pathogens (22). Kimchi consists of probiotic lactobacillus plantarum that protects the body from fungal infections and mycotoxin formation in the blood.
18. Prevents BPA Toxicity
BPA is a toxic compound that is found in water bottles and plastics. The presence of BPA in the body can lead to some serious problems like cancer, heart problems, obesity, a negative effect on brain, and diabetes. According to a study, bacillus pumilus, a probiotic bacteria found in Kimchi degrades bisphenol A (23).
Beauty Benefits of Kimchi
19. Gives a Radiant Skin
Kimchi skin benefits are numerous as it is great for improving texture and makes it glowing and effulgent. Koreans put a lot of pepper in Kimchi. The peppers are rich sources of vitamin C that is great for skin whitening (24) (25). It promotes the production of collagen and rejuvenates the skin. It even reduces blemishes and spots on the skin.
20. Makes Hair Shinier
Long and shining hair is desired by everyone. Your hair can transform your personality, enhancing the beauty. The presence of selenium in garlic works great for improving the quality of hair and makes them more lustrous (26).
21. Possesses Anti-Aging Properties
Aging is a natural process that cannot be stopped. However, certain products can slow down the signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. The dish is a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants that fight off free radicals and reduce the inflammation responsible for accelerating the aging process. Kimichi delays the aging process due to its anti-inflammatory properties (27). The dish promotes longevity and health of an individual.