I am officially hooked on kimchi. What’s that you ask?? (Hint: it’s not a rare Pokemon hiding in the coffee shop next door). Kimchi is vegetables (primarily cabbage) that have been fermented with probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB). When these veggies are fermented by LAB, studies have shown that they have more positive effects on the body than the non-fermented version, particularly in our gut.
Kimchi has been a staple in Korean cuisine, some say, for thousands of years. Fermentation of vegetables was a technique used in the Korean culture to help preserve food, and in the beginnings of kimchi’s creation, red pepper was used to help reduce growth of harmful bacteria and promote the growth of lactic acid bacteria. As we in the U.S. learn more and more about the importance of gut health, kimchi is now starting to trend as a healthy snack.
Some research has found that eating kimchi can lead to weight (particularly fat) loss, reduction in blood pressure and total cholesterol, as well as better control of blood sugar levels. We know that the composition of our gut microbiota (the bacteria in our large intestine) is related to our weight; it appears that consuming fermented foods, like kimchi, may alter our gut microbiota to promote a more lean body composition in addition to the other health benefits previously mentioned.
You can get kimchi a little spicy – like I like it :) -- or a milder version. And although it’s often made with fish sauce or fish, there are vegan versions out there as well! Mother-in-Law’s kimchi and Sunja’s kimchi are some great brands I’ve personally enjoyed! You can eat your kimchi plain as a snack, add it to salads, or serve it over a little brown rice with sautéed vegetables and a protein (i.e. sunny side up egg!) – all are delicious and the kimchi will give your meal that extra nutritional oomph!