3 Servings Of Kimchi A Day Keeps Belly Fat Away: Study

Kimchi is created by preserving and fermenting vegetables using a combination of seasonings and flavourings, including onion, garlic, and fish sauce.

Based on a study in the open-access journal BMJ Open, consuming up to three servings of traditional Korean kimchi daily could reduce the risk of obesity in men, while radish kimchi is associated with a lower likelihood of abdominal fat in both men and women.

Kimchi is created by preserving and fermenting vegetables using a combination of seasonings and flavourings, including onion, garlic, and fish sauce.

Kimchi typically features cabbage and radish as its primary vegetables. This popular dish is low in calories and high in dietary fiber, as well as beneficial lactic acid bacteria, vitamins, and polyphenols.

Previous experimental research has demonstrated that Lactobacillus brevis and L. plantarum, derived from kimchi, exhibited anti-obesity properties. Consequently, the researchers aimed to investigate whether consistent consumption of these strains could potentially lower the risk of general and/or abdominal obesity, which is widely recognized as detrimental to one's well-being.

The information was obtained from 115,726 individuals (36,756 males, 78,970 females) with an average age of 51 who participated in the Health Examinees (HEXA) study.

HEXA is a comprehensive, community-focused study that spans a long period and centres on the extensive Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study. Its aim is to investigate the environmental and genetic elements that contribute to prevalent long-term health issues in Korean adults aged 40 and above.

The researchers evaluated the participants' diet from the past year by using a reliable 106-item food frequency questionnaire. Participants were required to indicate the frequency of their consumption for each food item, ranging from rarely to up to three times daily.

The complete assortment of kimchi comprises baechu (cabbage kimchi), kkakdugi (radish kimchi), nabak, dongchimi (watery kimchi), and additional varieties like mustard greens kimchi. A serving size of baechu or kkahdugi kimchi is 50 grams, whereas a serving size of nabak or dongchimi kimchi is 95 grams.

Each participant had their height, weight, and waist circumference measured to calculate their BMI. A BMI of 18.5 indicated underweight, 18.5 to 25 was considered normal weight, and anything above 25 was classified as obesity.

Abdominal obesity was characterized by a waist measurement of 90 cm or more for men and 85 cm or more for women. About 36 per cent of the male participants and 25 per cent of the female participants were classified as obese based on this criteria.

The findings showed a curve in the shape of the letter J, which may be due to the fact that increased consumption is linked to greater intake of overall energy, carbohydrates, protein, fat, sodium, and cooked rice, according to the researchers.

In contrast to individuals who consumed less than one serving of kimchi per day, those who consumed five or more servings tended to have a higher body weight, larger waist circumference, and a higher likelihood of being obese. Additionally, they were more inclined to have lower levels of education, a lower income, and a tendency to consume alcohol.

After considering factors that could have an impact, consuming up to three servings of total kimchi per day was linked to an 11 per cent lower likelihood of obesity compared to having less than one serving per day.

In men, consuming three or more servings of baechu kimchi per day was linked to a 10 per cent reduced likelihood of being obese and a 10 per cent reduced likelihood of having abdominal obesity compared to consuming less than one serving per day.

In women, consuming two to three servings of this kind of kimchi each day was linked to an 8 per cent reduced likelihood of obesity, and having one to two servings per day was linked to a 6 per cent lower likelihood of abdominal obesity.

And eating below average quantities of kkakdugi kimchi was associated with around a 9 per cent lower prevalence of obesity in both sexes. And consumption of 25 grams per day for men and 11 grams per day for women was associated with an 8 per cent (men) to 11 per cent (women) lower risk of abdominal obesity compared with no consumption.

This study is purely observational, so it cannot prove causation. The researchers recognize that food frequency questionnaires may not always precisely measure amounts. Additionally, the results may not apply to other populations worldwide.

They also mention worries about the high salt content in kimchi, which may not be good for health. However, they propose that the potassium in the fermented vegetables could potentially offset this issue.

They warn that because all findings showed a 'J-shaped' relationship, consuming too much could lead to higher rates of obesity. Since kimchi is a significant contributor to sodium intake, it's advisable to consume a moderate amount to benefit from its other components while safeguarding health.

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