Improve your gut health and immune system with this popular Korean dish

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kimchi-health-benefits(NaturalHealth365) Never has improving gut health, the immune system, and other aspects of our well-being been more important.  And while some powers-that-be would rather us focus all our efforts on vaccines and disinfectants, many people naturally think that protecting our health has to start with eating healthier foods – like kimchi, for instance.

The health benefits of kimchi have been recognized for centuries, and research is still ongoing about its impact on our gut and other elements of human wellness.  And even though it’s a traditional dish from Korea, it’s easy to make at home, anywhere.

Get nearly a quarter of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C in a single serving of kimchi

Consumed regularly in Korea, kimchi is a dish typically made with fermented veggies – usually cabbage and celery, carrots, spinach, beets, scallions radishes, and bamboo shoots.  It’s often compared to sauerkraut out of Germany.

In case you forgot, fermentation is a process used to preserve food using live organisms like bacteria or yeast to convert starches or sugars into alcohols or acids.  Kimchi is made with a specific type of fermentation called lacto-fermentation, in which the bacterium Lactobacillus converts sugars into lactic acid.

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While it sounds a little strange, it turns out that the lacto-fermentation process produces many beneficial changes that make kimchi particularly healthy.  For one thing, the dish is loaded with friendly bacteria (in addition to Lactobacillus) that have been linked to everything from cancer prevention to improved mental health.

Multiple health benefits make kimchi a fantastic addition to your current diet.

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While we need more research, clinical trials with humans as well as laboratory studies have also demonstrated that kimchi has anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anticancer, anti-aging, anti-inflammation, and antioxidant capacities.  It also may support immune function and can promote improved metabolic, microbiome, and cardiovascular health.

One small study published in Nutrition Research found that eating kimchi improved blood pressure, total cholesterol, and fasting blood sugar levels, waist-to-hip ratio (a measure of body fat) in overweight and obese individuals.

Lastly, kimchi is low in calories yet high in nutrients, making it easy to add to any diet.  Just 1 cup of kimchi contains 23 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 22 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, 20 percent of the daily value of folate, 19 percent of the daily value of vitamin B6, and more than 50 percent of the daily value of vitamin K.

Want to make your own kimchi at home? It’s easier than you think

These days, you should be able to find kimchi at most major grocery stores.  But you can also make it at home if you prefer.

Tons of specific recipes are available online, but the general process involves washing, cutting, salting, rinsing, and draining the cabbage leaves, making a spice paste with ingredients like garlic, sugar, garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce (though vegan versions are available), mixing the paste and veggies, and refrigerating in a jar for 1 to 5 days before eating.  It’s recommended to check the kimchi daily and make sure the veggies stay below the brine.

Expect a sour yet spicy taste.  One important point to know – due to its bacterial content, kimchi may lead to food poisoning if you allow it to spoil.  If you notice any signs of mold, if your kimchi has a powerful off-putting odor, or if you’re just not sure if it’s safe to eat, then trash it.

By the way – you can eat, serve, and eat kimchi fresh.  Just know that most research suggests its health benefits are greater once it’s been fermented.

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