Whilst spending time in South Korea it is obvious that I should blog about the famous Korean Kimchi. Kimchi is a traditional food made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria and served as a side dish with most Korean meals, along with chilli paste, seaweed, and rice.
The main ingredient is Chinese cabbage, often with other vegetables, such as leek, scallions, cucumber and radish, all of which are fermented together in herbs and spices, usually garlic, cayenne pepper and ginger.
During the salting and fermenting process with lactic acid bacteria, pathogenic bacteria are eventually eradicated and replaced with beneficial bacteria, leading to heightened health benefits when eating Kimchi on a regular basis. It is packed with an assortment of powerful antioxidants, preventing oxidative damage from harmful effects of free scavenging radicals, and rich in probiotics in the form of lactobacillus bacteria. Kimchi also is high fibre and nutrient rich, containing many vitamins including A, B1, B2 and vitamin C, whilst also rich in amino acids and minerals – iron, calcium and selenium. The cayenne pepper adds a rich source of capsaicin and carotenoids, with many beneficial herbal actions including alterative, antispasmodic, astringent and carminative.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
This humble vegetable dish is famous for its health benefits verified and supported by much research. Creating a healthy gut flora by populating the intestine with good bacteria, it is an excellent food to promote digestion. The cabbage detoxifies the body getting rid of wastes and toxins, thus helping to stimulate better absorption of nutrients and the fibre content prevents constipation.
Kimchi has beneficial effects on LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. The addition of garlic, rich in allicin, lowers cholesterol, therefore reducing the risk of developing cardiac disorders including strokes and heart attacks. The selenium, also present in garlic, prevents the build-up of plaque on the arterial walls, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis.
As mentioned earlier, Kimchi is a source of healthy lactobacillus bacteria which the body utilizes to maintain healthy functioning. This good bacteria also assists in weight loss by controlling the appetite and reducing blood sugar levels. The fibre content of Kimchi keeps the body full and satiated for a longer period, preventing overeating.
Boosts Immune System
As Kimchi is rich in a range of flavonoids and phenolic compounds, the added ingredients including ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper are super protectors renowned for their beneficial effect on the immune system. They help in fighting and curing infections such as the flu and common cold.
Kimchi is not only an excellent side dish, but it can also be added to soups, stews and other dishes. Try putting it into sandwiches, on pancakes and in omelettes.
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