Kimchi is a traditional dish that has been a staple for pretty much every Korean households. It is often served as an appetiser in Korean restaurants, much like how breadsticks are served in some western restaurants. Nowadays, it has become much more popular with the mainstream crowd. With its deep complex flavour, it has the ability to be used in a variety of ways. Not only do people eat it straight, people use kimchi in dishes such as stew or fried rice!
Kimchi in its most basic form is usually a vegetable that is pickled in garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, spring onions, fish sauce and salt. There are two types of kimchi, fresh or fermented. Fresh kimchi is like a salad, raw vegetables and slightly crispy. Fermented has a much more strong tangy sour taste, the vegetable is usually more soft. Usually the ones you get at the supermarket that are not made in house are fermented (think of the branded ones you see in store). Personally, I would describe fermented ones to be a little more acid and has a soda like feel when eating it. I’m not really into fermented kimchi, but I absolutely love fresh kimchi!
Kimchi is something that is pretty nutritious while also being low in calories. It is a dish that is very high in flavour while also being low in calories, this might help because people tend to overeat food when the flavour is boring or tasteless. The generally used napa cabbage is also high in vitamin A and C as well as minerals and amino acids. What’s great is that kimchi is vegetables and this might be a great way for you to add some vegetables into your diet.
Probiotics is one of the thing that is most often brought up when people mention kimchi. This is one thing that is found only in fermented kimchi. When kimchi is fresh, it does not go through the process of fermentation and therefore there is no ability for the kimchi to develop the good bacteria that comes with fermentation. During fermentation, sugar and starch is turned into lactic acid. The lactic acid lowers your pH levels and therefore when you eat it, it can help eliminate the harmful bacteria in your guts. Studies done on mice, suggest that the strain Lactobacillus planetarum, found in kimchi has the ability to boost your immune system. This allows for you to better fight the common cold!
Because kimchi is great for your gut, it can also support for your brain to work better. The enteric nervous system that is located in your gut often communicates with your brain. Eating kimchi will help your gut and therefore improve the connection, making your brain more effective.
The main cabbage for kimchi is often napa cabbage, this is also high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is a very important vitamin for your eyes. By eating enough vitamin A, it can reduce the risk of vision loss and macular degeneration. People who do not eat enough vitamin A will eventually have issues with seeing in the dark. Therefore it is very important for you have vitamin A in your diet.
Although eating kimchi everyday is safe and has benefits for your body, you should know that kimchi is relatively high in sodium. There also has been studies that suggest that those who eat a lot of spicy and fermented food have a higher chance of gastric cancer. In fact, rates of gastric cancer among Koreans are 10 times higher than those in the United States. A study done suggests that you are in fact 50% more likely to have stomach cancer if you are a very heavy kimchi eater. But obviously, with everything, too much is never a good thing. So, make sure you eat kimchi and any other food in moderation.