You may be familiar with other fermented foods likes miso, kombucha, and yogurt, but there is another you should add to your diet: Kimchi. It's a probiotic-filled food made from fermented cabbage and other fermented vegetables.
Kimchi is very similar to sauerkraut, but there are some distinct differences. Kimchi is fermented at a lower temperature, often for a shorter amount of time and it’s often made with additional vegetables including radishes and scallions.
This traditional Korean condiment is generally seasoned with chili powder, ginger, garlic and other spices depending on the region. Originally used to preserve vegetables for the cold season, kimchi is quite the popular food in Korea, where the average person consumes 40 pounds each year! That's a lot of cabbage!
I was a little apprehensive upon first tasting kimchi, but quickly found a love for this fermented food. Kimchi has a pickled/vinegar, tangy flavor with a nice spice. Although it has a VERY pungent aroma – don’t let that frighten you. It really is tasty! So get out there and find some kimchi! You’ll find it in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.
Kimchi and Probiotic Health Benefits
Kimchi contains an impressive amount of nutrients – loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and it’s high in fiber. It also contains capsaicin, which acts as a pain reliever and can help reduce arthritis pain - what a bonus!
On top of all those nutrients, kimchi is packed with natural bacteria that have been shown to have many health benefits: anticancer, anti-obesity, cholesterol reduction, antioxidative and anti-aging properties, brain health promotion, skin health promotion, and the list goes on.
Kimchi has immune and digestion-boosting probiotics, which can help keep you regular (we all know how important that is) and can help improve other digestive issues like Crohn’s disease, constipation, diverticulitis and acid reflux.
Kimchi even has a leg up on other probiotic foods with the added benefits of garlic and ginger. Both of these spices have their own laundry list of benefits including antibacterial properties and decreased cancer risk.
Food really does all this? Absolutely! Food is the best medicine after all.
If you’re wondering how to use kimchi, you are not alone. I’ve also been on the hunt for great ways to use this probiotic superfood. And thankfully there are plenty of ways to include kimchi in your meals.
Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate Kimchi
- Try it in eggs with tomatoes and mushrooms - yum.
- Add an Asian twist to burgers by using kimchi as a topping
- In kimchi fried rice!
- Perfectly balanced in our kimchi and bok choy rice bowl - Kimchi, bok choy and green onions add flavor and fiber to keep you feeling full and keep your gut happy!!
We still have much to learn about our gut microbiome (the research is really still in its infancy), but we know that incorporating fermented foods, like kimchi, can help improve overall gut health and immune function.