World Institute of Kimchi: Seven Health Benefits of Korea’s Signature Dish, Kimchi

— Analysis on the 590 kimchi-related studies published around the world

— Kimchi, a superfood that helps prevent allergies and cancers

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — World Institute of Kimchi, which discovers and promotes kimchi’s scientific excellence announces seven health benefits of Korea’s signature dish, Kimchi. A research team led by Professor Youn-Soo Cha at Chonbuk National University, which is one of the research teams in World Institute of Kimchi in Korea conducted an analysis of 590 research papers on kimchi (385 in Korean and 205 in English) published around the world.

According to their research, Kimchi has three components that make the dish a healthy choice. The first component is leafy vegetables such as kimchi cabbage, one of the main ingredients of kimchi. The second component is the mix of spices such as chili, one of the minor ingredients of kimchi. The last component is the byproducts of lacto-fermentation. Packed with vitamins (B1, B2, C, etc.), minerals (calcium and potassium), fiber, and lactic acid bacteria, kimchi is full of superior nutritional benefits. The bacteria found in kimchi also comes with a wide range of functionality. According to the World Institute of Kimchi, kimchi has proven effects on anti-obesity, atopic dermatitis improvement, and hair growth. It has also been found that the lactic acid bacteria found in kimchi help to prevent cancer, dyslipidemia, and high blood pressure. These bacteria have demonstrated their antioxidant properties by removing free radicals that are known to cause a variety of diseases while boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation. Understanding such advantages, the Korea’s probiotics market has achieved rapid growth by tapping into the lactic acid bacteria extracted from kimchi.

Let’s take a look at the study in addition to others from around the world and find out about the seven health benefits of kimchi.

  • Allergic Diseases — Atopic Dermatitis, Asthma, Rhinitis, and More

In a study based on the outcomes of the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES), the prevalence of asthma decreased in people who consumed more than 40 grams of kimchi per day than in those who consumed less. According to an epidemiological study that examined the correlation between the kimchi consumption of adults aged 19 to 49 years and atopic dermatitis, the risk of atopic dermatitis was 0.68 times lower among people who ate 85–158 grams of kimchi per day than those who ate 0–36 grams. The prevalence of rhinitis was also lower by 0.81 times in people who included 108–180 grams of kimchi in their diet per day than those who only ate 0–23.7 grams. In 2017, the World Institute of Kimchi found that lactic acid bacteria (Weissella cibaria WIKIM28) isolated from kimchi have extraordinary effects in preventing and improving atopic dermatitis. The kimchi strain was given to atopic-dermatitis-induced mice to analyze the change in various immune system indicators; the serum levels of the IgE that triggers atopic dermatitis were reduced by approximately 50% while dermatitis symptoms were reduced by approximately 40%.

  • Anticancer

One of the reasons for high expectations over kimchi as an anticancer dish is its vegetable ingredients, which consist of kimchi cabbage, radish, mustard leaf, garlic, and chili — vegetables known to prevent cancer. The anticancer compounds found in kimchi include indole-3-carbinol (kimchi cabbage), isothiocyanate (kimchi cabbage), allyl sulfide (garlic), and capsaicin (chili powder). They are the reason that experts expect kimchi to be beneficial for inhibiting stomach, liver, colon, lung, and bladder cancers. The Rural Development Administration, a Korean government agency, reported that kimchi offers greater anticancer effects when it is adequately aged. Mixed with spices such as garlic, ginger, chili powder, and a local variety of scallion, a batch of kimchi was aged sufficiently, which was added to a gastric cancer cell line (MKN45). It was found to be 4–10 percent more effective in suppressing the growth of cancer cells than unfermented kimchi was. Further, it was found that chili powder suppressed cancer cell growth more than other types of spices, followed by garlic.

  • Enhanced Digestion

Another reason that makes kimchi so attractive is that it enhances digestion, cleans up the gut, and restores gut health thanks to the healthy lactic acid bacteria generated in the fermentation process. In the past, it was believed that the kimchi bacteria die before they reach the gut because of the acid in the stomach. However, a study by the Kimchi Research Institute at Pusan National University revealed that the daily consumption of 300 grams of kimchi increased the bacteria in the colon by 100 times compared to those who do not eat kimchi.

  • Anti-obesity

Kimchi is remarkable that it saves appetite but does not make fat. Kimchi has as few as 9 kilocalories (dongchimi) and as many as 55 kilocalories (scallion kimchi) per 100 grams. Kimchi made with kimchi cabbage has only 29 kilocalories. Capsaicin, which makes chili spicy, helps to break down and burn fat. Dietary fiber in kimchi helps with early satiation and aids bowel movement. A recent study by the World Institute of Kimchi revealed that after adding the bacteria strain isolated from kimchi (Lactobacillus sakei), the differentiation of fat cells was suppressed and body fat was reduced in mice that were used as obesity-induced models with a high-fat diet.

  • Suppression of Pathogenic Bacteria

Kimchi is famous for its antibacterial properties, killing pathogenic bacteria that cause food poisoning. This is also because of lactic acid bacteria, which inhibit the proliferation of harmful bacteria that may exist in kimchi. As kimchi ferments, lactic acid bacteria proliferate and produce lactic acid, thereby lowering the pH naturally. A study by the World Institute of Kimchi indicates that the level of coliforms was approximately 17,000 CFU (colony-forming unit) in a gram of kimchi in the early phase of fermentation, with a pH of 5.8. As fermentation progressed (at 4℃ 8 weeks later), kimchi dropped in pH to 4.1, with all coliforms annihilated.

  • Prevention of Anemia

Adult males who consumed 300 grams of kimchi daily for four weeks showed a spike in the serum levels of iron and ferritin, which helps the absorption of iron. This indicates that kimchi may be helpful in preventing anemia, which is mainly caused by iron deficiency.

  • Prevention of Vascular Diseases

In a study, healthy adults were asked to take 30 grams of tablets made of freeze-dried kimchi every day for six weeks. The result showed that their triglyceride levels in the blood and atherogenic index decreased while the HDL cholesterol level, a good cholesterol for vascular health, increased.

About World Institute of Kimchi

The Korean government established World Institute of Kimchi in January 2010, the only kimchi research facility in the world to promote and introduce the distinctive excellence of kimchi based on scientific evidence. A government-funded research institute established to perform research and development related to kimchi, to lead national technological innovation, nature and develop the kimchi industry that will boost the national growth. It performs overall research and development related to kimchi, in order to lead national technological innovation and nurture and develop the kimchi industry that will boost the national growth.

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