What are the health benefits of kimchi

Kimchi - the healthy superfood

Guest contribution by Sumi & Stephan

  • Sumi & Stephan are a German-Korean couple.
  • What they have in common is their love for the "Korean sauerkraut" kimchi.
  • They even refer to themselves as kimchi nerds and have written a book about it too.
  • In their guest article they describe the benefits of kimchi and what you can do with it.
Sumi & Stephan

The healthy superfood kimchi

Kimchi in one sentence: Kimchi is fermented vegetable from Korea and a real superfood.

Kimchi is one of the oldest and easiest ways to easily preserve fresh vegetables.
A variety of vegetables such as cabbage, cucumber, pak choi, radish and many others can be processed and combined with each other to make kimchi. Regional and fresh food is the key here.

There are well over 200 varieties of kimchi in Korea. In the past, kimchi served as a valuable source of vitamins and minerals in winter. In Seoul, the capital of South Korea, there is even a museum dedicated to this cultural treasure.

Kimchi is a real blessing for your health anyway, because vital minerals, vitamins, probiotics and enzymes are retained in this natural form of preservation. Kimchi helps with intestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, supports digestion and actively strengthens your immune system.

In terms of taste, kimchi, on the other hand, is incomparably crisp, full and aromatic.

Fermentation & healthy bacteria

Reason one is fermentation (lactic acid fermentation). This causes the lactic acid bacteria to convert sugar into acid, which makes the vegetables durable.
Furthermore, these tiny helpers make the vegetables easier to digest and they form a number of B vitamins in the fermentation vessel.

Basically, the lactic acid bacteria support digestion and have a positive effect on a healthy microflora (totality of microscopic organisms) in the intestine.
A healthy intestinal flora is promoted, which in turn strengthens the body's defenses.
For example, 15% of Germans often complain of intestinal problems. With kimchi you can proactively strengthen your intestinal flora.

Another reason are the vitamins and minerals in kimchi. They come from many different fruits and vegetables that are typically used in kimchi making.

Cabbage, spring onions and especially chillies provide valuable vitamin C. Vitamin A is abundant in kimchi, as carrots, spring onions and cabbage are used in the production.

The important vitamins B1, B2 and B12 are produced by the lactic acid bacteria all by themselves. In the first three weeks of fermentation, the proportions of some B vitamins even double.

Garlic, ginger and chilli in kimchi stimulate the circulation and lower the cholesterol level in the blood.
The combination of fresh vegetables with plenty of nutrients and lactic acid bacteria works wonders in the body.
The fermentation process makes the kimchi healthier and tastier anyway.

With the knowledge of fermentation, you can even create and enjoy your own kimchi variants. Be sure to try kimchi with cucumber and radish!

Cucumber kimchi before fermentation

What is necessary for fermentation?

Salt, vegetables and time

The answer to this question is fascinatingly simple:
Salt, vegetables and time are the basic ingredients. Nothing more is required.
The reason is very easy, because the good lactic acid bacteria already live on our fresh vegetables. The fermentation only serves to multiply the bacteria.

The salt plays the essential role of a catalyst, as salt removes liquid from the vegetables. This creates the characteristic lake. The lactic acid bacteria later multiply in the brine, making it the breeding ground for these useful little helpers.

The way of life of the lactic acid bacteria is anaerobic, so they do not need any oxygen. Whereas many competitors of lactic acid bacteria use oxygen for their metabolism. The acidic brine serves as a protective shield and thus fends off the "bad" bacteria. The miracle of fermentation takes place in the sour and salty brine.

To start the fermentation process, the vegetables must be prepared in such a way that the salt can penetrate the cell structure well. This can be done by slicing or soaking the vegetables with salt. But salt can do even more, because it makes the vegetables crisp and firm to the bite.
The salt dissolves sugar from the inside of the vegetables used, which in turn provides food for the microorganisms. The bacteria thrive so well. The more sugar is released from the vegetables, the more sour the kimchi will taste.

That's why we love kimchi!

Health + taste + preservation

In summary, kimchi is the sum of health, taste and preservation.

Kimchi = health + taste + preservation

The following picture shows all the advantages of kimchi, by the way, the characters mean kimchi in Korean. And if you want to try kimchi in Korea: With over 200 varieties of kimchi, you will need plenty of time to taste.

Oh yes, kimchi has hardly any calories and is also lactose-free. Try different types of kimchi, each kimchi goes well with different dishes.
In principle, kimchi should be enjoyed raw and not heated, as the lactic acid bacteria cannot tolerate temperatures above 43 ° C.

And here's the website and the book by Sumi & Stephan