If you've ever tried Korean food, you've probably had kimchee, or kimchi. This fermented spicy cabbage side, usually made with garlic, vinegar, chili peppers and salt, is served with pretty much every Korean meal. It is low in calories, filled with nutrients and may even lower your risk for some health problems, so feel free to use it to add flavor to your meals.
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Features of Fermented Food
Fermented foods, like kimchi, contain healthy bacteria called probiotics. They also tend to be easier to digest than nonfermented foods, as the bacteria break down the food somewhat during the fermentation process, according to an article published in "Mother Earth News" in 2013. Sauerkraut, miso, sourdough bread, some types of pickles, yogurt, kefir and stinky aged cheeses are other examples of fermented foods.
Low-Calorie, Low-Fat, Low-Carb
Add kimchi to scrambled eggs or soup, use it to top a baked potato or a burger or mix it with rice or noodles to flavor these foods without adding a lot of fat or calories. A 1/2-cup serving of kimchi contains only 16 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrates, including 1 gram of fiber.
You'll be a lot closer to meeting your vitamin requirements for the day if you eat a serving of kimchi. A 1/2-cup serving provides 58 percent of the daily value for vitamin A, 60 percent of the DV for vitamin C and 11 percent of the DV for folate. You need vitamin A for healthy vision and immune function. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and is essential for forming collagen, and folate is necessary for cell division and forming DNA.
Heart Health Hypothesis
Kimchi may also have some heart health benefits, even though it is high in sodium with 498 milligrams, or 21 percent of the DV. Consuming kimchi may lower your blood glucose levels, your total cholesterol and your low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, levels, according to a study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in March 2013. Opt for a low-sodium version of kimchi, and you won't risk increases in your blood pressure, recommends a study published in "Nutrition Research and Practice" in August 2012.