What is Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented dish that is full of beneficial lactic acid bacteria that promote good health.

It is made from Chinese cabbage and also contains green onion, radish, red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, and other vegetables and fruits as desired. The taste is a combination of sour, salty and spicy.

Because it is a natural process relying on the increase of the lactic acid bacteria that are already on/in the vegetables used in the recipe there can be much diversity in the bacterial content of the final product.

Commercial producers get round this diversity (which can lead to non-standardised flavors) by using a starter bacteris such as Leuconostoc mesenteroides to ensure that the kimchi develops as they wish.

The main bacteria found in Kimchi are from the Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Weissella families.

The conditions within the fermentation process of kimchi lead to a rapid increase in the numbers of lactic acid bacteria.

Typical good bacteria found are:1 cumber kimchi

  • Lactobacillus sakei
  • L plantarum
  • L brevis
  • L curvatus
  • Leuconostoc mesenteroides
  • Leu citreum
  • Leu carnosum
  • Leu gasicomitatum
  • Leu inhae
  • Leu gelidum
  • Leu kimchii
  • Leu miyukkimchii
  • Weisella koreensis
  • W cibaria
  • W kimchii
  • W soli
  • W confusa

 

Kimchi Nutrition

Kimchi is a wonderful source of vitamins (including Vitamin C), beta-carotene, minerals, lactic acid bacteria, dietary fibre, bacteriocins, chlorophyll and prebiotic factors.

Looking at each of these in more detail it becomes clear just why kimchi is so health enhancing.

Vitamins

Vitamin C - protection against immune system deficiencies, is an antioxidant so protects the body against cell damage from free radicals, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and as it is an essential part of the making of collagen possibly protects against skin wrinkling.

Beta-carotene is converted by the body into Vitamin A, one of the essential vitamins for human health. It improves the immune system, eye health and vision, and healthy skin and mucous membranes. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant that protects against the damge of free radicals.

Minerals

Cabbage - the main ingredient of many types of kimchi is a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and many other minerals, all of which are preserved within the kimchi.

Lactic acid bacteria

LAB can alter the bacterial balance through your gastrointestinal tract thereby promoting improved health. They also improve your immune system.

Dietary Fibre

As the main ingredients in kimchi are vegetables it is a wonderful source of dietary fibre for bowel health.

Bacteriocins

Are produced by lactic acid bacteria and inhibit other harmful bacteria.

Chlorophyll

The pigment that give vegetables their green colour and widely believed to be helpful in human health.

Prebiotic factors

Help your body to grow the healthy lactic acid bacteria that are already within your body. Why take expensive probiotic supplements when you can enhance the growth of the probiotics already within your gastrointestingal tract with foods such as kimchi

Health benefits include includes anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion2.

Two of the lactic acid bacteria mentioned above Lactobacillus sakei and L plantarum were gathered from Kimchi and tested and were shown to have immune enhancing effects3.

In another study L brevis taken from kimchi was also shown to have a health promoting effects.

 

Fermented Foods

Naturally fermented by traditional recipies. Full of beneficial lactic acid bacteria.

 

Types of Kimchi

There are more than two hundred different types of kimchi depending on what basic ingredients are used as well as region, season, main ingredient, starter culture inoculation and recipe

A few of the mre common ones are listed below.

  • Baechu-kimchi - Chinese cabbage
  • Chonggak - whole radish
  • Ggakdugi - chopped radish cube
  • Yeolmumul Kimchi - green water
  • Nabak Kimchi - red water

 

 

REFERENCES for What is Kimchi

1. Ji Young Jung, Se Hee Lee, Che Ok Jeon. Kimchi microflora: history, current status, and perspectives for industrial kimchi production. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology March 2014, Volume 98, Issue 6, pp 2385-2393.

2. Park KY, Jeong JK, Lee YE, Daily JW 3rd. Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food. J Med Food. 2014 Jan;17(1):6-20. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.3083.

3. Hong YF, Kim H, Kim HR, Gim MG, Chung DK. Different Immune Regulatory Potential of Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus sakei Isolated from Kimchi. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014 Dec 28;24(12):1629-35.

 

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