benefits-of-kimchi

7 Essential Health Benefits of Eating Kimchi

If you’ve ever done any research on health foods, you’re probably well aware of the benefits of consuming fermented foods. But you may not realize that kimchi is one of the most beneficial foods you can start incorporating into your diet, and you can make it at home! In fact, this traditional Korean food is thought of so highly that many local families choose to say “kimchi” versus the American “cheese” when being photographed. But what exactly is kimchi, and why is it so beneficial? Kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage that has been found to possess some essential health benefits.

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What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a high-fiber, low-fat meal that is widely available in Asian grocery stores as well as health food stores across the country. The food is typically a red, fermented cabbage food although it is periodically made with radish. The cabbage or radish is fermented using a mix of salt, vinegar, garlic-chili peppers, and other spices. The ingredients are sealed and fermented in a closed jar and served with rice, noodles, or soup.

What Are the Major Benefits of Eating Kimchi?

So why should you start adding this dish to your weekly meal plan? These seven benefits should be enough to convince you.

1. Balances healthy bacteria in your body.

Like yogurt, kimchi contains the “healthy bacteria” or lactobacilli that your body needs to support digestion. The fermentation process also produces probiotics in the mixture that help your body fight infection.

2. Reduces cholesterol levels.

If you suffer from high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, kimchi is a great solution for you. The garlic used to season kimchi contains allicin and selenium – two components that help reduce cholesterol in your body. Additionally, these substances reduce your risk of stroke and other cardiovascular concerns as they help prevent plaque build-up in the arterial walls.

3. Boosts your immune system.

Kimchi is also effective for making your immune cells more active and the antibodies in your body to be more abundant. Adding kimchi to a high cholesterol diet can boost your immune cell activity to 75 percent.

4. Supports weight loss.

Not only is kimchi a relatively low-calorie food – 150 grams contains only 40 calories – but it also supports your body’s metabolism of carbohydrates to aid in weight loss. Likewise, the capsaicin in chili peppers in this in other Korean foods boosts your metabolism and helps you use the excess energy in your body for added weight loss.

5. Slows the aging process.

Slowing the aging process is just one of the many benefits of kimchi. The dish is rich in antioxidants that not only inhibit cell oxidation but also decrease the rate at which your skin ages.

6. Promotes eye health.

Kimchi is a good source of vitamin A, containing 18 percent of the daily value of the nutrient per 100-gram serving. This vitamin supports clear, healthy eyesight among other things.

7. Reduces the risk of certain cancers.

The vitamin A contained in kimchi is a powerful antioxidant that helps remove free radicals from your body that cause cancer. Not only that but the biochemical, such as isocyanate and sulfide, found in the food are effective for detoxifying heavy metals in your internal organs, including your liver, kidney, and small intestine.

Even just adding one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, like kimchi, to one of your three meals each day can have a significant impact on your health. If you’ve never consumed fermented foods, then now is a perfect time to start, but be sure to introduce them gradually to avoid a major digestive episode.

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The Basic Steps to Make Your Own Kimchi

Kimchi, also known as kimchee, is a traditional Korean dish that was developed in ancient times. It uses a fermentation process to preserve and pickle fresh vegetables. Initially, this process was developed for the purpose of storing vegetables year-round. However, it’s gaining popularity beyond its country of origin.

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Varieties

There are over 200 varieties of this Asian delicacy, but the most prominent ingredient in kimchi is always cabbage. While this crunchy, spicy dish has a texture similar to sauerkraut, it has a much bolder flavor. That’s because of the addition of seasonings and garlic.

Health Benefits

Since kimchi is rich in probiotics, it helps restore the good bacterial balance in your gut and improves the immune system. Fermentation also increases the nutritional attributes of food. Additional health benefits include anti-obesity properties and improved cardiovascular health.

Basic Implements

You’ll only need a few common items to make your kimchi. For preparation purposes, use a wooden spoon, large bowl, knife, cutting board and a food processor. If you don’t have one of the latter, a blender will do. Of course, a traditional mortar and pestle will get the job done as well. You will also need sterilized mason jars for storage vessels, preferably the quart-sized variety.

Ingredients

Besides cabbage, kimchi consists of five extra components: salt, garlic, a sweet element, ginger, and a hot element. Ideally, you should use green or Napa cabbage, but bok choy will work as well. Traditionally, you’ll want to use gochujang chili paste, but you can substitute Aleppo pepper or sriracha. Optional ingredients include vegetables, onions or green onions.

Ratios

For one head of cabbage (1.5 to 2 pounds), you’ll need two tablespoons of salt, two or three large garlic cloves, one teaspoon of ginger, one teaspoon of sugar and three tablespoons of chili flakes or paste. You can substitute one thinly sliced pear or apple for the sugar.

Preparation

Reserve a few cabbage leaves, set them aside and cut the head into small pieces. Place the cut-up cabbage into the bowl and sprinkle with salt. Cover the bowl, and let it sit at room temperature until the content has wilted and liquid has gathered on the bottom. This can take up to 12 hours.

Combine the other ingredients and work them into a rough paste. Drain the wilted cabbage and reserve the liquid. Mix the paste with the cabbage and fill your mason jars with the kimchi, but leave an inch of space at the top.

Fermentation

Divide the reserved liquid up equally among the jars. If you don’t have enough cabbage liquid, you can add water to ensure coverage during the fermentation process. Use the wooden spoon and compress the mixture until the brine covers the kimchi. Place the reserved cabbage leaves on top. Close the jars and leave them at room temperature for up to five days. Then remove the leaves and place the jars in the fridge.

While kimchi is readily available, making your own allows you to control the spice level. You can also add ingredients such as radishes, carrots and fish sauce to customize this dish.

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