Feedback
Features 1 minute 08 November 2017

Kimchi: The Korean Superfood

Studies have shown that the South Koreans are set to live longer than anyone else by 2030. Here’s why.

Southeast Asia wellness

For awhile, it was olive oil. Scientists, puzzled by the long lifespans of the Mediterraneans, singled it out as a key ingredient for the elixir of life.

Then there was Japan, whose lengthy spell at the top of global longevity rankings was attributed to its citizens’ low-fat diet and love of raw fish.

Now, with recent studies conducted by the Imperial College of London showing that the South Koreans are set to live longer than anyone else by the year 2030. The question arises: is there something in the kimchi?

The kimchi we're most familiar with is made with fermented napa cabbage.
The kimchi we're most familiar with is made with fermented napa cabbage.

So what exactly is kimchi?

There are over 180 varieties of kimchi; the most popular and the one we're most familiar with is known as baechu-kimchi. It is a quintessential side dish in Korean cuisine, made with salted, seasoned and fermented napa cabbage.

What makes it healthy?

The fermentation process. Fermentation dates back thousands of years, but it is now being held up as a potentially important source of friendly, gut-healthy bacteria.

A healthy appetizer of tofu topped with kimchi and white sesame seeds.
A healthy appetizer of tofu topped with kimchi and white sesame seeds.

The good fight

We've been taught for a long time that bacteria isn't a good thing. But the bacteria that comes from fermented foods is no enemy—in fact, it is the hero aiding our digestion.
First, napa cabbage is soaked in salt water to kill off any harmful bacteria. And then, the remaining bacteria called lactobacillus—the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt and in a healthy gut—converts the sugars and carbohydrates into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives kimchi its signature tang.

The verdict

The result is a dish rich in vitamins A and B and minerals like calcium and iron, on top of its gut-healthy bacteria. It is said that the average Korean adult consumes at least one serving (3.5 ounces) of kimchi a day, which immediately puts them over 50% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C and carotene.

Additionally, most types of kimchi contain onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers; ingredients that are salutary. Thus, researchers believe that the benefits are multifold—from toting cancer-fighting properties and lowering cholesterol to improving mental health and skin.

Features

Keep Exploring - Stories we think you will enjoy reading

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to get news and updates about the MICHELIN Guide
Subscribe
Follow the MICHELIN Guide on social media for updates and behind-the-scenes information