Consuming a serving of kimchi with each meal is linked to a reduced risk of obesity and a slimmer waistline, a study suggests.
The Korean dish of fermented cabbage and spicy vegetables is gaining popularity in the UK. Previous studies have shown that the food, served in 50-gram portions, or three large tablespoons, can improve levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Now, a study has linked cabbage kimchi to a lower risk of obesity.
The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, examined data from 115,726 people aged 40 to 69 in Korea, who were asked about their consumption of the food product via questionnaires.
The researchers calculated participants’ consumption of baechu kimchi (cabbage kimchi), kkakdugi (radish kimchi), nabak kimchi or dongchimi (watery kimchi) and other kimchi (e.g. that made from spring onions or mustard greens).
A serving of baechu kimchi, kkakdugi, or other kimchi was considered 50 g, and a serving of nabak kimchi or dongchimi was considered 95 g. People also had their height, weight and waist circumference measured for the study.
Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference of at least 90 cm for men and at least 85 cm for women. Some 36 percent of men and 25 percent of women in the study were obese.
The results showed that men who consumed a total of one to three servings of kimchi per day had an 11 to 12 percent lower risk of obesity than men who ate less than one serving per day.
Meanwhile, men consuming more cabbage kimchi (more than three servings per day) had a 10 percent lower risk of obesity and excess weight around the stomach and abdomen. The risk was 8 percent lower among women for this type of kimchi. Additionally, men and women who ate radish kimchi had an approximately 9% reduced risk of midsection and abdominal fat.
Experts said, however, that there appeared to be no real benefit to eating more than three servings a day.
They suggested that people who ate more than three servings of kimchi also tended to eat more other foods and were more likely to be obese.
Kimchi typically includes vegetables like cabbage, radish, and onion, along with spices like red pepper powder, garlic, and ginger.
Previously published studies suggest that the “good” bacteria found in fermented foods like kimchi are good for the gut and may have an effect on weight.
Researchers noted concerns about the salt in kimchi, saying that “as kimchi is one of the main sources of sodium intake, a moderate amount should be recommended for the health benefits of its other components.” .
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