It is hard to imagine Korean cuisine without kimchi. This spicy side dish made of fermented cabbage is a staple at nearly every Korean meal.
In recent years, kimchi’s popularity has also grown around the world, not just for its distinctive flavors, but for its multitude of health benefits.
Traditional Korean earthenware fermentation jars used for kimchi preparation and storage
Koreans began fermenting vegetables 3,000 years ago to preserve food during their country’s cold and harsh winters. This resulted in the first forms of kimchi. It turns out they could not have chosen a better food as we now know kimchi’s impressive nutritional profile.
As we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, kimchi sales are reportedly surging, as people seek to boost their immune systems with the help of this superfood.
Kimchi is best known for being a powerful probiotic. Thanks to its fermentation process, it is loaded with good bacteria. Probiotic foods boast numerous benefits. It has been reported that they aid digestion, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss and even improve skin health.
Kimchi can definitely help [the immune system] because of the ingredients used to make it,” said Megan Evans, certified holistic nutritionist and founder of MegUnprocessed. “Things like cabbage, garlic and ginger have all shown to have immune-boosting properties.”
“Fermented foods, like kimchi, have been shown to prevent certain cancers, lower cholesterol and improve gut health,” Evans said.
The many benefits of kimchi
If that is not enough to convince you to add kimchi to your diet, it is also low in calories and high in fiber. Kimchi contains vitamins A, B, C and K as well as minerals like calcium and iron.
Despite its health benefits, most Koreans will tell you that the taste alone earns kimchi its worldwide popularity.