Everything you need to know about kimchi and the 5 amazing benefits of eating it!
What is Kimchi?
Originating 3000 years ago, kimchi is a food staple in many Korean households. Full of tangy, spicy, and sour flavours, this dish is not one to be missed.
Typically it is made with cabbage, usually Napa cabbage, although you may see it made with other vegetables. Some flavourings and spices are added, including sugar, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, and salt. Sometimes, it will contain fish or shrimp depending on the recipe.
Everything is left to ferment, meaning the bacteria naturally break down the food for a few days. This fermentation process is what causes kimchi to be sour and tangy. The result is a delicious side dish that is packed full of plant power and some fantastic health benefits.
Benefits of Eating Kimchi
1. It is Great for Digestive Health
Kimchi can be great for your digestive health due to its probiotic nature and fibre content.
One study found that participants who ate kimchi every day had a reduction in gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, acid reflux, bloating, and gas(1).
Other studies have shown that eating kimchi regularly reduces common symptoms of IBS such as bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation. This was likely caused by the probiotics found in kimchi and increased fibre content from eating kimchi regularly(2).
Increased fibre intake from consuming kimchi is also wonderful for your gut. More fibre means more food for your good gut bacteria. Fibre can help keep your bowels regular, improve your cholesterol and maintain healthy blood sugar control!
2. Improved Skin
Kimchi may be the way to achieve the glowing skin you’ve always wanted.
Eating kimchi and fermented vegetables has been shown to reduce atopic dermatitis in some individuals(3).
It also contains antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and selenium. Antioxidants protect against inflammation and could help improve the condition of your skin.
Some research has also shown improved gut health from the probiotics in kimchi can improve skin conditions by improving inflammation.
3. Improved Cholesterol
Eating kimchi may be beneficial for your heart health. In one study of 100 participants, those who ate kimchi had a decrease in total cholesterol and their ‘bad’ LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol. Improving your cholesterol and LDL can help prevent future heart conditions(4).
Be aware that these are small studies done on young healthy individuals and more research is needed. Kimchi is also high in salt , which can affect heart health. If you have a heart condition or have been advised to stick to a low salt diet, kimchi should be consumed in small portions or not at all.
4. Improve your Immune System
A healthy gut is the way to a healthy immune system. Or so science is telling us. The fibre and probiotics in kimchi help to make our gut a happier, healthier place. Probiotics secrete protective substances, which in turn trigger our immune system.
5. Aid with Weight Loss
Kimchi is a low calorie, high fibre food which may be beneficial when trying to lose weight. We already know that higher fibre foods help us feel full for longer, which can prevent us from snacking later in the day and help reduce our overall calorie intake.
A more specific study looking at the effects of kimchi in a group of overweight or obese adults found that eating kimchi helped reduce participants’ weight and body fat as well as improve their blood sugar levels(5).
Kimchi won’t magically make you drop pounds, but if you are looking to lose weight or eat a healthier diet this can be a great addition.
Is kimchi vegan?
It depends on the recipe. Some kimchi recipes or store-bought kimchi will contain fish products. But don’t let that deter you There are loads of brands out there that omit the fish sauce making it completely plant-based and thus vegan. This Vadasz Raw Kimchi is quite easily found in UK supermarkets and is completely plant based.
How do I eat kimchi?
A typical way you may see it eaten is with stir fry or in rice dishes. It goes well in sandwiches, in soups, or even straight out of the jar. I am partial to eating it on avocado toast topped with edamame beans.
Are their side effects to eating kimchi?
You should’t really experience any side effects with eating kimchi. However, if you start eating a lot of it in a short period of time, you may find yourself bloated. This is due to increasing your intake of fibre and fermented food. Start with a small portion and slowly increase.
It is also worth being aware that if your kimchi has not been prepared or stored correctly, pathogenic bacteria may grow which can cause food poisoning. Make sure to follow storage instructions correctly and eat it before the best before date.
Can I eat kimchi every day?
Yes absolutely. However, kimchi is high in salt, and salt in large quantities is not great for our health. If you have high blood pressure, have been advised by your doctor to be aware of your salt intake, or you are trying to reduce your salt intake, maybe limit yourself to eating it every few days and be aware or portion sizes.
Is kimchi low FODMAP?
At 47g a serving yes, more than that and it increases your intake of mannitol which can cause symptoms for some people. If you have IBS or are focusing on a low FODMAP diet, pay attention to portion sizes.
Kimchi is a delicious low calorie snack that does have some health benefits to it. A lot of these studies were done on quite small groups so more research is likely needed and all the mechanisms are not yet known. However, kimchi is packed full of plant power, fibre, and probiotics, making it a great addition to your diet. Try it out and let me know the best way you enjoy eating kimchi.
*Disclaimer: this is not intended as medical advise, please speak to your doctor for any medical concerns or questions you have.
- Keith, J.F., The Impact of Daily Kimchi Consumption: A Pilot Study.
- Kim, H.Y., Park, E.S., Choi, Y.S., Park, S.J., Kim, J.H., Chang, H.K. and Park, K.Y., 2022. Kimchi improves irritable bowel syndrome: results of a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Food & Nutrition Research.
- Rezac, S., Kok, C.R., Heermann, M. and Hutkins, R., 2018. Fermented foods as a dietary source of live organisms. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, p.1785.
- Choi, I.H., Noh, J.S., Han, J.S., Kim, H.J., Han, E.S. and Song, Y.O., 2013. Kimchi, a fermented vegetable, improves serum lipid profiles in healthy young adults: randomized clinical trial. Journal of Medicinal Food, 16(3), pp.223-229.
- Kim, E.K., An, S.Y., Lee, M.S., Kim, T.H., Lee, H.K., Hwang, W.S., Choe, S.J., Kim, T.Y., Han, S.J., Kim, H.J. and Kim, D.J., 2011. Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients. Nutrition Research, 31(6), pp.436-443.