Kimchi: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

kimchiKimchi is more than just a traditional fermented condiment popular in Korean cuisine. There are many kimchi nutrition facts that make this spicy pickled cabbage a powerful superfood that complements soups, salads, and stir-fries quite nicely.

The history of kimchi is rooted in agrarian culture and its suspected origin coincides with the period of the Three Kingdoms in Korea (first century BC to seventh century AD). Kimchi, also spelled kimchee or gimchi, is informally known as the national dish of Korea, and it is usually eaten at every meal. South Koreans consume about 40 pounds of kimchi per person every year. There are more than 300 different types of kimchi, which vary based on the vegetables used for the dish.

Some of the main kimchi ingredients include napa cabbage, scallion, radish, cucumber, and spices. It is made through the traditional fermentation process inside tightly sealed glass jars. This can take anywhere from several days to several months. The flavors, textures, and health benefits of kimchi will greatly improve as time goes by.

Kimchi Nutrition Facts

In a report published in the Journal of Medicinal in 2014, researchers noted that the byproducts formed during the fermentation of kimchi are responsible for forming probiotics. Probiotic foods are essential for maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive system.  Lactobacilli bacteria are primarily responsible for converting sugars (lactose and glucose) to lactic acid during the process. This will suppress harmful bacteria and stimulate beneficial bacteria, which helps to clean the intestines.

Besides healthy probiotics, kimchi is absolutely loaded with other key nutrients. For example, a half cup of kimchi contains about 96 calories, 20 carbs, over three grams of protein, and over two grams of fiber, according to SELF Nutrition Data.

Kimchi is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6, manganese, and iron. It also contains some vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, choline, betaine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and selenium.

Kimchi also contains several healthy nutrients, including chlorophyll, capsaicin, and antioxidants like carotenoids, isothiosyanates, and flavonoids. The following is a kimchi nutrition chart that contains information for about a half-cup or 282 grams of kimchi.

Nutrient Amount Daily Value
Calories 95.6 5%
Carbohydrates 19.7g 7%
Fiber 2.4g 10%
Protein 3.2g 6%
Total Fat 1.2g 2%
Iron 2.1mg 12%
Manganese 0.5mg 25%
Copper 0.2mg 8%
Calcium 62.8mg 6%
Magnesium 35.0mg 9%
Phosphorus 56.7mg 6%
Potassium 238mg 7%
Sodium 2206mg 92%
Selenium 3.9mcg 6%
Zinc 0.5mg 4%
Folate 83.3mcg 21%
Vitamin B3 1.7mg 9%
Vitamin B5 0.3mg 3%
Vitamin B2 0.1mg 5%
Vitamin B1 0.1mg 9%
Vitamin A 2273IU 45%
Vitamin B6 0.3mg 13%
Vitamin C 12.3mg 21%
Vitamin E 1.4mg 7%
Vitamin K 21.1mcg 26%
Choline 5.6mg N/A
Betaine 0.1mg N/A

* Source: SELF Nutrition Data

Potential Health Benefits of Kimchi

The high level of antioxidants in kimchi may help reduce the risk of serious health conditions. Research shows that kimchi contains anti-obesity effects, anticancer properties, seasonal allergy support, anti-constipation properties, fibrolytic effects, and cholesterol reduction abilities. Also, kimchi benefits brain health, skin health, and colorectal health, while also treating leaky gut syndrome. Let’s look further into the possible health benefits of kimchi.

Water weight loss1. Weight Loss

Many people find that eating fermented foods like kimchi helps reduce sugar cravings, which may also improve digestion and help regulate your appetite.

The chili peppers in kimchi may also help boost your metabolism. The fiber in kimchi can be helpful for weight loss. Probiotics in kimchi are also linked to decreasing body fat and weight. The right combination and dosage of probiotics may help regulate appetite hormones, control cravings, and fight the urge to overeat.

2. Probiotics

Kimchi health benefits include the effect this fermented vegetable has on digestion. The lactic acid bacteria in kimchi are the main probiotics created during the fermentation process. The garlic and ginger in kimchi, along with the lactic acid, help ensure that kimchi is safe to eat because they target pathogenic bacteria.

Fermented foods like kimchi can help keep you regular and prevent common digestive issues like constipation, or more serious digestive conditions like leaky gut syndrome and candida. Probiotic foods have been shown to benefit Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, infectious diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.

3. Essential Vitamins

The cabbage in kimchi also provides a good source of natural antioxidant nutrients like vitamins C and A. Vitamin C can help shorten the duration of the common cold, as well as keep the immune system in healthy condition to battle serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin C, according to some studies, has been directly linked to the prevention of heart disease. Vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene, is important for eye health and vision, but it’s also known to protect the body from the free radical damage associated with chronic diseases.

cancer4. Anti-Cancer

Kimchi contains several important anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients that may slow oxidative stress. The cabbage, scallions, garlic, ginger, radishes, and red pepper are high in antioxidants. Anti-inflammatory foods may prevent and battle chronic diseases like cancer.

Studies suggest that the capsaicin in the red hot pepper of kimchi helps reduce the development of lung cancer. The allicin in garlic also helps lower the risk of getting stomach, thyroid, and liver cancer. Also, the indole-3-carbinol in Chinese cabbage may lower your risk of colon and stomach cancers.

5. Cardiovascular Health and More

The garlic in kimchi contains selenium and allicin. These may help decrease cholesterol in the body and your chance of developing stroke or other heart disease.

The fiber in kimchi’s cabbage may also help lower the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. On average, Americans consume less than half of the recommended amount of fiber. Diets high in fiber are also linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may improve glycemia and insulin sensitivity.

Homemade Kimchi Recipes

Throughout the years, Koreans have developed numerous kimchi recipes. Today, it is possible to fund hundreds of kimchi recipes that will differ in terms of ingredients, fermentation length, and different kinds of seasoning used to flavor the kimchi.

Although jarred kimchi can be purchased at health food stores and specialty Asian grocery stores, you can try making kimchi at home. The following are two kimchi recipes that vary slightly. Both contain napa cabbage, but one contains onion and coconut aminos. If you prefer spicy foods, the other kimchi recipe contains red chili flakes.

1. Ginger Kimchi

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups napa cabbage, washed, cored, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 to 2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup Celtic grey sea salt
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos

Directions:

  • Place a layer or cabbage in a one-gallon Mason jar, and sprinkle some salt over the cabbage, and repeat layers until all the cabbage is used. Let the cabbage and salt sit at room temperature for six hours, and rinse the salt off the cabbage under running water. Drain well and place the cabbage in a large bowl.
  • Peel and finely chop the ginger and onion. Peel and garlic, but leave the cloves whole. Mix the aminos, ginger, garlic, onions, and carrots with the cabbage, and place the mixture back in the jar. Cover the jar with cheesecloth.
  • Let it ferment at room temperature for two days, and cover the lid and place it in the refrigerator to ferment for another week, or until the desired taste has developed. The recipe makes four cups, and will keep in the fridge for six months.

2. Spicy Kimchi

Want your kimchi to be a little spicy? The following kimchi recipe contains red chili flakes. If you are not using organic fruits and vegetables for this recipe, it is best to peel them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 napa cabbage, cored, and coarsely chopped, with one large leaf reserved
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 3 to 4 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Celtic grey sea salt
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 pear, cored and chopped
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons red chili flakes

Directions:

  • Combine cabbage, radishes, carrots, and green onions in a large bowl, and set aside.
  • For the paste, place pear, ginger, garlic, and chili flakes in a blender or food processor, and pulse until combined and becomes fairly smooth. Pour the paste over the vegetable mixture, and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, massage the kimchi, and use gloves if you prefer as there’s heat from the ginger and chili flakes. As you massage, the veggies will begin to soften and release water, as brine is created. You can take breaks as needed, but you need to make enough brine to cover the kimchi when you stuff the jar. There should be a good puddle at the bottom of the jar.
  • Once you have enough brine, stuff the kimchi into a clean Mason jar, and use a wooden spoon to push down the kimchi. This will remove air pockets and release more water. Leave one to two inches of space from the rim of the jar, and top with the reserved cabbage leaf, and use it to push down the kimchi so it is submerged under the brine.
  • Screw on the lid loosely so air can still escape. Leave it to ferment. It will take seven to 10 days, depending on your kitchen’s temperature. Be sure to check your kimchi daily, and if necessary, push the leaf to keep the vegetables submerged under the brine. After a week, begin tasting, and once fermented to your liking, remove the top cabbage leaf, and close the lid tightly, and store in the fridge. It will keep there for six months.

Kimchi: Healthy and Delicious

Kimchi is more than just a tasty side dish for Koreans. It is definitely a food you should make and add to your salads and soups. You can also get creative with your kimchi condiment and use it with savory pancakes, and baked into fritters or frittatas.

You can also add in on your burger, on top of eggs, or top into on tacos as well. Kimchi really can go with anything. Use your imagination, and enjoy all the benefits associated with this delicious Korean dish!


Related:


Sources:
“Napa Cabbage Kimchi Nutrition Facts & Calories,” SELF Nutrition Data; http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/recipe/2610249/2, last accessed February 7, 2017.
Dannie, M., “Health Benefits of Kimchi,” LIVESTRONG, http://www.livestrong.com/article/478382-health-benefits-of-kimchi/, last accessed February 7, 2017.
Raymond, J., “World’s Healthiest Foods: Kimchi (Korea),” Health; http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410300,00.html, last accessed February 7, 2017.
Maiquez Loroya, L.M., “9 Surprising Benefits of Kimchi That Will Make You Want To Try It Now,” Life Hack; http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/9-surprising-benefits-kimchi-that-will-make-you-want-try-now.html, last accessed February 7, 2017.
“Health Benefits of Kimchi,” Organic Facts; https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/health-benefits-of-kimchi.html, last accessed February 7, 2017.
“The Tangy Tasty Superfood Korean Families Eat with Every Meal (Recipe Included),” Mercola, Dec. 14, 2015; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/14/kimchi-health-benefits.aspx.
Park, K.Y., et al., “Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food,” Journal of Medicinal Food, January 2014; 17(1): 6-20, doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.3083.
McCarthy, J., Joyous Detox: Your Complete Plan and Cookbook to Be Vibrant Every Day (Toronto: Penguin Group, 2016), 207.
Daniluk, J., “Hot Detox: A 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Program to Heal Your Gut and Cleanse Your Body (Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016), 206.


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