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Environmental Nutrition: Benefits of kimchi

By Kristen N. Smith, Ph.D., R.D.N. on

Environmental Nutrition

If you're a fan of Korean cuisine, you might already be familiar with kimchi, a mixture of salted and fermented vegetables, because it has been a staple for centuries. But, if it's your first time reading about it, you'll be glad to discover that kimchi benefits apply not only to those at risk for heart disease and diabetes, but also for those looking to manage their weight, improve digestion, promote skin health, and more.

What is kimchi?

Kimchi is a low-calorie, low-fat, nutrient-dense source of vitamins (especially vitamin C and beta-carotene), minerals, fiber, important phytochemicals (including beta-sitosterol, sulfur compounds, and capsaicin), and perhaps most importantly, numerous probiotic strains (including Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus brevis). Researchers have compared kimchi to yogurt, stating that kimchi can be considered a vegetable probiotic food, while yogurt is a health-promoting dairy probiotic food.

Kimchi benefits for weight loss

Studies have reported numerous health benefits of kimchi and other fermented vegetables. For instance, eating kimchi can help obese people decrease body weight, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, and percentage of body fat.


Kimchi benefits also improve a number of metabolic factors associated with being overweight that increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes: fasting blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. In diabetic rats, kimchi improves insulin function and lowers average blood glucose levels. In healthy young people, kimchi helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

Other kimchi benefits

Besides its effect on weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, kimchi benefits that have been reported in the scientific literature (but may also benefit from additional research) include:

--Increased antioxidant status


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