Is Kimchi Good for You?
Kimchi is a Korean staple made from fermented napa cabbage, daikon radishes, garlic, salt, and delicious spices. It’s often used as a condiment in rice and pasta dishes, in soup, or on eggs. I’ve even spotted it at a local food truck being served on top of french fries! Along with sauerkraut, kimchi is probably one of the most commonly recognized fermented vegetable dishes.
While it tastes delicious, you may be wondering: is kimchi good for you? Good news: It’s full of nutrients to power your body, low in calories, and has all the health benefits of lacto-fermentation. Let’s take a closer look at the make-up of this delicious Korean slaw.
Is Kimchi Good for You?
The Nutrient Content of Kimchi
While an individual batch of kimchi’s nutritional content will vary somewhat depending on which vegetables you choose to include, you can be sure that it is full of vitamins and minerals that you need for overall health.
The cabbage in kimchi alone is an excellent source of vitamin K, a nutrient that supports blood clotting and bone strength1. One cup also offers 55% of the daily value of this necessary vitamin! It also provides 25% of your daily vitamin B2 intake2, which is important for cell development and function3.
Additionally, one cup of kimchi contains 3% of the suggested daily intake of vitamin A, 9% of fiber, and 3% of the recommended daily value of protein4. Furthermore, it provides essential minerals to your body. One cup can give 4% of the recommended daily consumption of calcium, 5% of potassium, and a whopping 21% of your daily iron intake5.
Since kimchi is a lacto-fermented food, its nutrients are more easily digested, allowing your body to absorb and use more of its goodness6.
How many calories in kimchi? There’s only 23 calories in an entire cup, making it a low-calorie food that you can enjoy without guilt7.
Sodium Content in Kimchi
One downside of kimchi is that it is high in sodium. One cup contains 747 mg of sodium8, or about 32% of your recommended daily intake. Too much sodium in your regular diet can be a contributing factor to high blood pressure, or hypertension, potentially leading to additional health problems9. So is kimchi healthy if it could possibly lead to this kind of trouble?
Intriguingly, one study of over 20,000 participants did not find an association between high kimchi consumption and higher occurrences of hypertension. The researchers suggested that its potassium content helps to neutralize the effects of its high sodium, helping to keep blood pressure in a healthy range10.
If you’re concerned about the salt content in kimchi, just keep an eye on the portion size, as well as overall sodium intake. Alternatively, you can try this no-salt kimchi recipe.
Garlic — The Heavy Lifter
Aromatic and delicious, the garlic in this powerhouse slaw alone provides a slew of health benefits. Garlic is a good source of manganese, calcium, vitamin, C, and iron11.
Garlic has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting properties12. Used for years as a traditional remedy for colds, infections, and more, recent research also suggests that garlic may play a part in preventing many of the conditions associated with aging, such as arthritis, cataract formation, cerebral aging13, cardiovascular disease and cancer14, 15, and diabetes. Garlic is even used in dermatological applications16! And, to enhance all the nutritious benefits of garlic, try fermenting it.
Health Benefits of Lacto Fermentation
Kimchi’s lacto-fermentation adds a super-boost to this superfood. Its individual ingredients are already wholesome, but fermentation enhances the quality of these ingredients and has additional health benefits.
Fermented foods like kimchi contain probiotics or live microorganisms that can help support a healthy gut and immune system17. Fermentation helps to break down the nutrients in foods, increasing their bioavailability. Additionally, fermented foods can help to neutralize or eliminate anti-nutrients, such as tannins or phytic acid18.
Kimchi is a delicious, nutritious, fermented super food that’s easy to make at home. It also supplies your body with necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as all the benefits of lacto-fermentation. We hope you decide to give it a try yourself and enjoy all of its goodness.
Is kimchi good for you? We can now answer with a resounding, “yes!”
Ready to experiment with kimchi? Try these recipes:
Because wide-mouthed Mason jars are easy to get, inexpensive, safe for fermenting and come in a variety of sizes, the Fermentools products are made to fit them. Find glass weights, airlocks, specially designed surgical steel lids and more at the Fermentools store.
1 “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin K.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 June 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/.
2 “Cabbage, Kimchi.” Nutrition Facts for Cabbage, Kimchi, Recommended Daily Values and Analysis., 2021, www.nutritionvalue.org/Cabbage%2C_kimchi_nutritional_value.html.
3 “Office of Dietary Supplements – Riboflavin.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6 Jan. 2021, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-HealthProfessional/.
4 “What Is Kimchi Good For?” Mercola.com, 20 Aug. 2018, foodfacts.mercola.com/kimchi.html
5 “Cabbage, Kimchi.” Nutrition Facts for Cabbage, Kimchi, Recommended Daily Values and Analysis., 2021, www.nutritionvalue.org/Cabbage%2C_kimchi_nutritional_value.html.
6 Swain, Manas Ranjan, et al. “Fermented Fruits and Vegetables of Asia: a Potential Source of Probiotics.” Biotechnology Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 28 May 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058509/.
7 “Cabbage, Kimchi.” Nutrition Facts for Cabbage, Kimchi, Recommended Daily Values and Analysis., 2021, www.nutritionvalue.org/Cabbage%2C_kimchi_nutritional_value.html.
8 “What Is Kimchi Good For?” Mercola.com, 20 Aug. 2018, foodfacts.mercola.com/kimchi.html
9 “Sodium Intake: Use the Nutrition Facts Label and Reduce Your Intake.” FDA.gov, 02 April 2020. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet
10 Song, Hong Ji, and Hae-Jeung Lee. “Consumption of Kimchi, a Salt Fermented Vegetable, Is Not Associated with Hypertension Prevalence.” Journal of Ethnic Foods, No Longer Published by Elsevier, 21 Jan. 2015, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352618114000055.
11 “What Is Garlic Good For?” Mercola.com, 25 Oct. 2016, foodfacts.mercola.com/garlic.html.
12 Santhosha, S.G., et al. “Bioactive Components of Garlic and Their Physiological Role in Health Maintenance: A Review.” Food Bioscience, Elsevier, 16 July 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212429213000473.
13 Rahman, K. “Garlic and Aging: New Insights into an Old Remedy.” Ageing Research Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12437995/.
14 Tsai, Chia-Wen, et al. “Garlic: Health Benefits and Actions.” BioMedicine, Elsevier, 30 Jan. 2012, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2211802011000374.
15 Ip, C, et al. “Mammary Cancer Prevention by Regular Garlic and Selenium‐Enriched Garlic.” Taylor & Francis, 4 Aug. 2009, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01635589209514197.
16 Bongiorno, Peter, et al. “Potential Health Benefits of Garlic (Allium Sativum): A Narrative Review .” De Gruyter, De Gruyter, 1 Jan. 2004, www.degruyter.com/view/journals/jcim/5/1/article-jcim.2008.5.1.1084.xml.xml.
17 “Office of Dietary Supplements – Probiotics.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3 June 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/.
18 Swain, Manas Ranjan, et al. “Fermented Fruits and Vegetables of Asia: a Potential Source of Probiotics.” Biotechnology Research International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058509/.
Abigail is a homesteader, homeschooler, and music-maker. She lives with her husband and three children on her acre-and a half homestead in scenic Pennsylvania. You can visit her blog about living the homegrown life (and seeking contentment while doing it) at They’re Not Our Goats.