Historically, it hasn't always been possible to grow fresh vegetables throughout the year.
Therefore, people developed methods of food preservation, such as pickling and fermentation — a process that uses enzymes to create chemical changes in food.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made with salted, fermented vegetables. It typically contains cabbage and seasonings like sugar, salt, onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers.
It may also boast other vegetables, including radish, celery, carrot, cucumber, eggplant, spinach, scallions, beets, and bamboo shoots.
Though usually fermented for a few days to a few weeks before serving, it can also be eaten fresh, or unfermented, immediately after preparation.
Not only is this dish delectable, but it also offers many health benefits.
Here are 9 unique benefits of kimchi.
1. Nutrient Dense
Kimchi is packed with nutrients while being low in calories.
On its own, Chinese cabbage — one of the main ingredients in kimchi — boasts vitamins A and C, at least 10 different minerals, and over 34 amino acids.
Since kimchi varies widely in ingredients, its exact nutritional profile differs between batches and brands. All the same, a 1-cup (150-gram) serving contains approximately.
- Calories: 23
- Carbs: 4 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: less than 1 gram
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sodium: 747 mg
- Vitamin B6: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin C: 22% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 55% of the DV
- Folate: 20% of the DV
- Iron: 21% of the DV
- Niacin: 10% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 24% of the DV
Many green vegetables are good sources of nutrients like vitamin K and riboflavin. Because kimchi often comprises several green veggies, such as cabbage, celery, and spinach, it's typically a great source of these nutrients.
Vitamin K plays an important role in many bodily functions, including bone metabolism and blood clotting, while riboflavin helps regulate energy production, cellular growth, and metabolism.
What's more, the fermentation process may develop additional nutrients that are more easily absorbed by your body.
Kimchi has an excellent nutritional profile. The dish is low in calories but packed with nutrients like iron, folate, and vitamins B6 and K.
2. Contains Probiotics
The lacto-fermentation process that kimchi undergoes makes it particularly unique. Fermented foods not only have an extended shelf life but also an enhanced taste and aroma.
Fermentation occurs when a starch or sugar is converted into an alcohol or acid by organisms like yeast, mold, or bacteria.
Lacto-fermentation uses the bacterium Lactobacillus to break sugars down into lactic acid, which gives kimchi its characteristic sourness.
When taken as a supplement, This bacterium itself may have several benefits, including treating conditions like hayfever and certain types of diarrhea.
Fermentation also creates an environment that allows other friendly bacteria to thrive and multiply. These include probiotics, which are live microorganisms that offer health benefits when consumed in large amounts.
In fact, they're linked to protection from or improvements in several conditions, including:
- certain types of cancer
- the common cold
- gastrointestinal health
- heart health
- mental health
- skin conditions
Keep in mind that many of these findings are related to high-dose probiotic supplements and not the amounts found in a normal serving of kimchi.
The probiotics in kimchi are believed to be responsible for many of its benefits. Nonetheless, more research is needed on the specific effects of probiotics from fermented foods.
Fermented foods like kimchi offer probiotics, which may help prevent and treat several conditions.
3. May Strengthen Your Immune System
The Lactobacillus bacterium in kimchi may boost your immune health.
In a study in mice, those injected with Lactobacillus plantarum — a specific strain that's common in kimchi and other fermented foods — had lower levels of TNF alpha, an inflammatory marker, than the control group.
Because TNF alpha levels are often elevated during infection and disease, a decrease indicates that the immune system is working efficiently.
A test-tube study that isolated Lactobacillus plantarum from kimchi likewise demonstrated that this bacterium has immune-enhancing effects.
Though these results are promising, human research is needed.
A specific strain of Lactobacillus found in kimchi may boost your immune system, though further research is necessary.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
Probiotics and active compounds in kimchi and other fermented foods may help fight inflammation.
For example, a mouse study revealed that HDMPPA, one of the principal compounds in kimchi, improved blood vessel health by suppressing inflammation.
In another mouse study, a kimchi extract of 91 mg per pound of body weight (200 mg per kg) given daily for 2 weeks lowered levels of inflammation-related enzymes.
Meanwhile, a test-tube study confirmed that HDMPPA displays anti-inflammatory properties by blocking and suppressing the release of inflammatory compounds.
However, human studies are lacking.
HDMPPA, an active compound in kimchi, may play a large role in reducing inflammation.
5. May Slow Aging
Chronic inflammation is not only associated with numerous illnesses, but it also accelerates the aging process.
Yet, kimchi possibly prolongs cell life by slowing this process.
In a test-tube study, human cells treated with kimchi demonstrated an increase in viability, which measures overall cell health — and showed an extended lifespan regardless of their age.
Still, overall research is lacking. Many more studies are needed before kimchi can be recommended as an anti-aging treatment.
A test-tube study indicates that kimchi may slow the aging process, though more research is necessary.
6. May Prevent Yeast Infections
Kimchi's probiotics and healthy bacteria may help prevent yeast infections.
Vaginal yeast infections occur when the Candida fungus, which is normally harmless, multiplies rapidly inside the vagina. Over 1.4 million women in the United States are treated for this condition each year.
As this fungus may be developing resistance to antibiotics, many researchers are looking for natural treatments.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that certain strains of Lactobacillus fight Candida. One test-tube study even found that multiple strains isolated from kimchi displayed antimicrobial activity against this fungus.
Regardless, further research is necessary.
Probiotic-rich foods like kimchi may help prevent yeast infections, though research is in the early stages.
7. May Aid Weight Loss
Fresh and fermented kimchi are both low in calories and may boost weight loss.
A 4-week study in 22 people with excess weight found that eating fresh or fermented kimchi helped reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat. Additionally, the fermented variety decreased blood sugar levels.
Keep in mind that those who ate fermented kimchi displayed significantly greater improvements in blood pressure and body fat percentage than those who ate the fresh dish.
It's unclear which properties of kimchi are responsible for its weight loss effects — though its low calorie count, high fiber content, and probiotics could all play a role.
Though the specific mechanism isn't known, kimchi may help reduce body weight, body fat, and even blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
8. May Support Heart Health
Research indicates that kimchi may reduce your risk of heart disease.
This may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties, as recent evidence suggests that inflammation may be an underlying cause of heart disease.
In an 8-week study in mice fed a high cholesterol diet, fat levels in the blood and liver were lower in those given kimchi extract than in the control group. In addition, the kimchi extract appeared to suppress fat growth.
This is important because the accumulation of fat in these areas may contribute to heart disease.
Meanwhile, a weeklong study in 100 people found that eating 0.5–7.5 ounces (15–210 grams) of kimchi daily significantly decreased blood sugar, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
All the same, more human research is needed.
Kimchi may lower your risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation, suppressing fat growth, and decreasing cholesterol levels.
9. Easy to Make at Home
Though preparing fermented foods may seem like a daunting task, making kimchi at home is fairly simple if you adhere to the following steps:
- Gather ingredients of your choice, such as cabbage and other fresh vegetables like carrot, radish, and onion, plus ginger, garlic, sugar, salt, rice flour, chili oil, chili powder or pepper flakes, fish sauce, and saeujeot (fermented shrimp).
- Cut and wash the fresh vegetables alongside the ginger and garlic.
- Spread salt in between the layers of cabbage leaves and let it sit for 2–3 hours. Turn the cabbage every 30 minutes to evenly distribute the salt. Use a ratio of 1/2 cup (72 grams) of salt to every 6 pounds (2.7 kg) of cabbage.
- To remove the excess salt, rinse the cabbage with water and drain in a colander or strainer.
- Mix the rice flour, sugar, ginger, garlic, chili oil, pepper flakes, fish sauce, and saeujeot into a paste, adding water if necessary. You can use more or less of these ingredients depending on how strong you want your kimchi to taste.
- Toss the fresh vegetables, including the cabbage, into the paste until all of the veggies have been fully coated.
- Pack the mixture into a large container or jar for storage, making sure to seal it properly.
- Let the kimchi ferment for at least 3 days at room temperature or up to 3 weeks at 39 F (4 C).
To make a version that's suitable for vegetarians and vegans, simply leave out the fish sauce and saeujeot.
If you prefer fresh over fermented kimchi, just stop after step 6.
If you choose fermentation, you'll know that it's ready to eat once it starts to smell and taste sour — or when small bubbles begin to move through the jar.
After fermentation, you can refrigerate your kimchi for up to 1 year. It will continue to ferment but at a slower rate due to the cool temperature.
Bubbling, bulging, a sour taste, and a softening of the cabbage are all perfectly normal for kimchi. However, if you notice a foul odor or any signs of mold, such as a white film atop the food, your dish has spoiled and should be thrown out.
Kimchi can be made at home using a few simple steps. Typically, it needs to ferment 3–21 days depending on the surrounding temperature.
Does kimchi have any downsides?
In general, the biggest safety concern with kimchi is food poisoning.
Recently, this dish has been linked to E. coli and norovirus outbreaks.
Even though fermented foods don't typically carry foodborne pathogens, kimchi's ingredients and the adaptability of pathogens means that it's still vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.
As such, people with compromised immune systems may want to practice caution with kimchi.
Although people with high blood pressure may have concerns about this dish's high sodium content, a study in 114 people with this condition showed no significant relationship between kimchi intake and high blood pressure.
Kimchi has very few risks. Nonetheless, this dish has been tied to outbreaks of food poisoning, so people with compromised immune systems may want to use extra caution.
The Bottom Line
Kimchi is a sour Korean dish often made from cabbage and other vegetables. Because it's a fermented food, it boasts numerous probiotics.
These healthy microorganisms may give kimchi several health benefits. It may help regulate your immune system, promote weight loss, fight inflammation, and even slow the aging process.
If you enjoy cooking, you can even make kimchi at home.
- 9 Dishes Chefs Eat When They're Sick - EcoWatch ›
- When's the Best Time to Consume Probiotics? - EcoWatch ›
- 8 Impressive Benefits of Purple Cabbage - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.
- Protecting Mangroves Can Prevent Billions of Dollars in Global ... ›
- Could the 'Mangrove Effect' Save Coasts From Sea Level Rise ... ›
Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?
- 5 Things to Know About Earth's Warming Oceans - EcoWatch ›
- Bioluminescent Waves Mesmerize California Beachgoers, Surfers ... ›
- NOAA: 2020 Could Be Warmest Year on Record - EcoWatch ›
- On June 8, We Celebrate Our Oceans, Our Future - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Things to Know About the State of Our Oceans for World Oceans Day ›
By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.
- As Protests Rage, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice ... ›
- First-Ever Black Birders Week Tackles Racism Outdoors - EcoWatch ›
- 15 EcoWatch Stories on Environmental and Racial Injustice ... ›
- Take a Hike Day Is Around the Bend. What's Your Dream Hike ... ›
By John Letzing
This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."
The Navajo Nation covers the corners of three different states. Google Maps
Growing Contribution<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NDY5Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM4MTgyM30.IuQTKQs1stvYYKD6vaVTrqAyoBsUG0BhDvlhxsyKwPA/img.png?width=980" id="02a05" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2841f82b1785df5d5ed7bf64d3bb882b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
World Economic Forum
- Black and Hispanic Americans Suffer Disproportionate Coronavirus ... ›
- Native American Tribes' Pandemic Response Is Hindered by ... ›
- Navajo Nation Has Highest Covid-19 Infection Rate in the U.S. ... ›
World Environment Day: A Time to Consider the Planet We’ll Return To, and Decide How to Care for It Going Forward
It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.
Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.
DAN medical experts explained the difference between normal lungs, on the left, and "very serious lungs caused by COVID-19," on the right. Matias Nochetto / Divers Alert Network (DAN)
- How the COVID-19 Coronavirus Attacks the Entire Body - EcoWatch ›
- What Does 'Recovered From Coronavirus' Mean? - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›