Kimchi – The Heath Benefits and Risks

The Korean trend is going global these days. Talking of Korean culture, we are not only talking about K-pop, K-drama, K-fashion, but also Korean food. When speaking about Korean food, the first thing that comes to people's minds is definitely Kimchi. 

What is kimchi?

Kimchi is made from salted fermented vegetables, mainly napa cabbage (also known as baechu in Korea). Originating from Korea, it was the way people used to store and preserve vegetables to prevent food shortage during winter. Nowadays, it can be seen in almost every korean meal, served as a side dish or as an ingredient in main dishes.

Kimchi tastes spicy, tangy and sour due to the fermenting process. The cabbage dish is soft and crunchy at the same time as it was soaked with salt water before. Beside of the addicting taste, kimchi offers a lot health benefits! 

Benefits of Kimchi

1. Source of fiber

Kimchi is a mix of different vegetables, like napa cabbage, white radish, carrot, leek, spring onion and even cucumber and celery. The variety of vegetables provides a good amount of fiber. More than half of Malaysians do not reach the daily requirement for fiber. Thus, storing kimchi at home or bring a small portion to the workplace is a good idea to increase your fiber intake.

2. Contain probiotics

When it is fermented, the sugar inside kimchi turns into lactic acid, which makes the kimchi sour. This process is happened with the help of lactic acid bacteria, which is also known as probiotic.

Probiotic is known with many health benefits. It can improve the condition of our guts, and help with digestion, bloating and constipation. By increasing good bacteria in the stomach, our immune system can be strengthened. In addition, probiotics also help in improving skin condition. (is that why most korean women have good skin?)

3. Vitamins & phytochemical

Kimchi is nutrient-dense. It contains a wide range of vitamins, mainly vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Thanks to many types of vegetables in kimchi, it acquires phytochemicals (chemical produced by plants).

Anthocyanin from napa cabbage, allicin from garlic, quercetin from onions and so on. These phytonutrients poses anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-oxidative and immune-stimulating properties, which benefit our health.

Who is not suitable to eat kimchi?

1. People who concern about sodium intake

Although kimchi brings a lot of potential health benefits, it is also considered as a high sodium food. People with high blood pressure and kidney disease might need to avoid this famous Korean dish.

2. People who has weaken immune system

Kimchi contain of live good bacteria. However, as kimchi is uncooked food, there may be a risk of pathogenic bacteria growth if the kimchi is not prepared or stored correctly. Therefore, people with a very low immune system, especially those who are on a neutropenic diet, is not encouraged to consume kimchi.

3. People with serious gastrointestinal problem

As kimchi is fermented food, it can cause gas production in stomach. People with gut problems, like Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or on low FODMAP diet, is not suitable to take kimchi. People with gastric problems are also advised to avoid kimchi due to its acidity property.

Making of kimchi

Even though kimchi is very common in Korea, it is not so inexpensive in Malaysia. A 150g of kimchi is around RM 10 to RM 15 in a grocery store. You can consider making it yourself at home, it is not only more cost-effective, but also fresher.

To make kimchi, make sure to follow proper sanitation processes. Wash your hand thoroughly before handling the veggies, make sure the kimchi-storing container is sanitized, and the making surface is clean. 


If you ever tried kimchi, now you know that the sour fermented dish is not only addicting, but is also nutritious. If you never try before, wait no more! Go and buy from the grocery storet, and eat together with your meal. I am sure you will love it!

Written by,
Shiang Jiun

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