Credit: Elaine Tin Nyo

Posted by Andrew Hall of An Apple a Day

Perhaps partially as a consequence of Korean-American chef David Chang and his Momofuku restaurants, which use them within many dishes, American cooks are finally starting to discover the benefits of Korean ingredients and cuisine. In addition to offering sharp, distinct flavors that don’t exist in other culinary traditions, Korean ingredients have marked health benefits. Here are just a few examples.

1. Kimchi

Kimchi is quite possibly the cornerstone of Korean cuisine. It consists of fermented pickles made often from cabbage, chile peppers, garlic, and ginger, among other ingredients, and appears alongside almost every Korean meal. As a consequence, its benefits have long been touted. It helps to bring down one’s risk of cancer and lowers cholesterol. It provides energy for lactobacteria and bifidobacteria, “good bacteria” that helps provide B-vitamins and help keep sludge out of one’s intestines.

Kimchi is extremely filling despite being low in calories and provides circulation-boosting garlic, chilies which make the body feel full faster through heat, and speeds up one’s metabolism by promoting the development of lactic acid within the body.

2. Doenjang

Doenjang is a paste made from fermented soybeans with a distinctly strong flavor. The soybeans provide the body with isoflavones, and their effects are increased through the fermentation. It includes acids to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and helps the body recover from liver and heart damage. It is also very high in protein, containing many amino acids that it takes on during the fermentation process.

3. Bibimbap (a popular Korean meal)

Bibimbap is a Korean dish consisting of lean meat, rice, and vegetables, sometimes with an egg, sometimes with fish. While a bibimbap dish is caloric, its ingredients are low in fat, meaning that you instead consume non-fried starches and green leafy vegetables, which make you feel fuller for a much longer period of time. The dish also often includes shredded seaweed, which is a source for vitamins C and A, potassium, magensium, and B2, among other things.

4. Teas

Korean teas are fairly standard, offering green tea, pine needle tea, ginger tea, ginseng tea, and a variety of teas made from dried fruits indigenous to Korea. Many of the dried fruit teas are said offer therapeutic effects in treating colds and flu, as well as muscle pain, and Korean green tea offers the same benefits as other green teas; it provides antioxidants, vitamins E and C, and is said to improve sight and be full of anti-aging aids.

5. Gochujang

Gochujang is another red pepper paste made from chili peppers, rice, soybeans, and salt, then fermented. It’s high in protein and vitamins and low in fat and calories, all of which speeds the metabolism and provides cardiovascular benefits. Added protein intake can help lead to fat loss, but the sauce can also provide vitamins B2 and C, as well as the same essential benefits as kimchi, making it an extremely useful, healthful addition to many meals and one that can be easily added to meat and vegetable dishes where desired.

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on earning your online nursing degree for the Guide to Health Education.

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