In Dietary, Health

Gut health – it’s the phrase on everybody’s lips right now and with good reason. Improving this aspect of your wellness could offer all kinds of health benefits.

While we already know that probiotic-rich foods (such as those that are fermented) help to boost your good gut bacteria levels, we’re still learning which are the most effective. Luckily, from kombucha to yogurt, there’s no end to the delicious snacks that will keep your gut as well as your taste buds happy.

One of the most popular takes inspiration from Korean cuisine – yes, we’re talking about kimchi. Not only is this side dish delicious but, according to the results of recent research published in the Food Microbiology journal, it’s packed with probiotic benefits.

Traditional kimchi vs. plant-based kimchi

Believe it or not, traditional kimchi is not entirely plant-based. Although it’s made from cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables, chefs often use a little fish sauce, fish paste, and other types of seafood to give it that tangy taste.

However, as plant-based living is on the rise, there are now many alternative and equally tasty ways to make the Asian side dish. These options often include using miso paste and a little spice into the mix an extra kick of flavour.

During a recent study, Brown University researchers looked at how these small changes affected the benefits that the dish could offer. Their aim was to find out whether plant-based versions of kimchi offered as many health benefits as the traditional version.

“In vegan kimchi, producers swap in things like miso, which is a fermented soybean paste, in place of the seafood components,” explained Michelle Zabat, lead author of the study. “We wanted to know what the effects of making that swap might be in terms of the microbial community that’s produced during fermentation.”

At the start of the experiment, the plant-based kimchi and traditional kimchi had strikingly different ‘microbial communities’ (i.e. the type of bacteria). But as the fermentation process went on, the two communities became more and more similar.

What’s more, when the fermenting was complete, the two communities were almost identical. The takeaway is that the plant-based alternative can be as beneficial to our health as traditional kimchi. Check out SHED’s simple plant-based kimchi recipe here!

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Photo credit: Pixabay

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