Daily serving of kimchi can cut obesity risk, study reveals

31 January 2024, 09:08

Different types of kimchi have different benefits, a study has found
Different types of kimchi have different benefits, a study has found. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Eating kimchi every day may help people tackle a bulging waistline, research suggests.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Korean fermented cabbage and vegetable dish has been growing in popularity after studies suggested it may improve levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Now, a new study has found that cabbage kimchi may lower men's risk of obesity, while kimchi made with radishes could help both men and women fight excess pounds.

The research, published in the journal BMJ Open, examined data for 115,726 people aged 40 to 69 in Korea, who were asked about their consumption of kimchi via food questionnaires.

Read more: 'Fairer' social housing reforms will ensure system used 'in the right way' by those who 'play by the rules'

Read more: Iceland boss Richard Walker sparks furious row after he backs Labour after 'begging Sunak' for a safe Tory MP seat

Researchers calculated the total intake of kimchi by looking at how much people ate of: baechu kimchi (cabbage kimchi), kkakdugi (radish kimchi), nabak kimchi or dongchimi (watery kimchi), and other kimchi (for example green onion kimchi or mustard greens kimchi).

One serving of baechu kimchi, kkakdugi and other kimchi was regarded as 50g, and one serving of nabak kimchi and dongchimi was 95g.

People also had their height, weight and waist circumference measured for the study.

Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference of at least 90cm for men and at least 85cm for women. Some 36% of men and 25% of women in the study were obese.

The results showed that men with a total kimchi intake of one to three servings per day had an 11-12% lower risk of obesity when compared to men who ate less than one serving per day.

Meanwhile, those men with a higher intake of cabbage kimchi (over three servings a day) had 10% lower odds of obesity and obesity round their stomach and abdomen.

The risk was 8% lower in women for this type of kimchi.

Furthermore, men and women who ate radish kimchi had around a 9% reduced risk of fat around the middle and abdomen.

The experts said, however, there appeared to be no real benefit to eating more than three servings a day.

They suggested people who ate more than three servings of kimchi tended to also eat more of other foods and were more likely to be obese.

What is kimchi?

Kimchi is made in different ways but it typically includes vegetables such as cabbage, radish and onion, plus spices such as red pepper powder, garlic and ginger.

Previously published studies have suggested that "good" bacteria in fermented foods such as kimchi are good for the gut and can have an effect on weight.

The researchers noted concerns around the salt in kimchi, saying "as kimchi is one of the major sources of sodium intake, a moderate amount should be recommended for the health benefits of its other components."