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“The Repository of Healthy Lactobacilli, Kimchi Is Effective in Preventing Cancers”

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As reflected in the fact that a magazine with global reach, , selected Korean kimchi as one of the world’s top five healthy foods, kimchi is receiving recognition throughout the world. The distinctive taste of kimchi is without analogy anywhere else. Thanks to the unique spicy taste and nutritious merits, the number of foreign people interested in kimchi continues to grow. met Mr. Park Wan-soo, general director of WIKIM (World Institute of Kimchi)―the world’s only government-funded research institute for kimchi―to hear about the nutritional excellence of kimchi and the globalization of this food.   

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What are the nutritional advantages of kimchi?

The main ingredients of kimchi include green and yellow vegetables (such as napa cabbage), garlic, ginger, and green onion, so kimchi is rich in vitamins and dietary fibers. Generally 1g of kimchi contains over 1 billion lactobacilli. It is a well-known fact that regular consumption of kimchi is effective in improving immunity and preventing cancers. What’s more, lactobacilli help activate the work of the intestines and have an anti-aging effect. In other words, kimchi is the repository of lactobacilli, which are very good for your health.

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Some people say consuming kimchi may not be good for your health because kimchi contains lots of sodium.


That is a bit of a misconception. Kimchi contains lots of potassium, which excretes sodium. Usually, people who regularly eat salty food for a long time have a higher risk of getting gastric cancer, but studies show that steady consumption of kimchi is good for preventing high blood pressure. WIKIM is researching the best balance of potassium and sodium to prevent cardiovascular diseases and will develop technology to apply the research results in kimchi-manufacturing soon.

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What types of kimchi do foreign people like?


WIKIM conducted a survey entitled “Kimchi Preferences of Foreigners” in 2012. Out of the 200 foreigners residing in Korea who responded, the majority chose baechu-kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) as their favorite. Kkakdugi (radish kimchi) came in second, followed by cucumber kimchi, and chonggak-kimchi (whole radish kimchi). There are also many foreigners who enjoy the dongchimi (radish water kimchi) and baek-kimchi (white kimchi), both of which contain no red pepper powder.

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Some foreigners are reluctant to eat kimchi because of its strong fragrance and spicy taste.


It is necessary to keep the tradition of kimchi, but we are also making efforts to develop new kimchi products that can better satisfy the taste buds of foreign consumers. A low-sodium kimchi for those who dislike the salty taste is already on the market and being exported to foreign countries. Our institute is performing research on new techniques of kimchi-manufacturing that will allow the production of less spicy kimchi (with little capsaicin) and mild kimchi (that uses broth instead of the salted seafood jeotgal).

What efforts are needed to foster kimchi as a global food?


Korea is actively exporting kimchi products to some 80 countries, but there are still many foreigners who don’t know about kimchi. There are also foreigners who mistakenly think that the birthplace of kimchi is Japan or China. That is why it is very important to promote kimchi abroad.
WIKIM will participate in the Milano Expo this May. 140 countries and 20 million people are expected to come to that exhibition. We will hold an event to introduce the nutritional value of kimchi. In preparation for the further advance of kimchi into the Chinese market, we plan to hold a number of business negotiation and promotional events in major Chinese cities later this year.

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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