Kimchi might be the secret to a smaller waistline.
A new study submitted for review on BMJ Open found that the traditional Korean dish made of fermented vegetables, such as cabbage or radish, could help reduce fat in the stomach area — and potentially decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Babbage and radish are both high in dietary fibers, microbiome-enhancing lactic acid bacteria, vitamins and polyphenols — and consuming up to three servings of kimchi daily can reduce a person’s chances of developing obesity.
Kimchi is made by salting and fermenting vegetables and adding seasonings such as garlic, onion and fish sauce.
Previous research has shown that bacteria from kimchi has an anti-obesity effect in animals, but very few studies have examined the association between kimchi consumption and obesity.
The study analyzed 115,726 participants aged 40–69 years who have been enrolled in Korea’s Health Examinees study.
The participants had to respond to a questionnaire that asked how often they ate different kinds of food per day — with the options being less than one serving a day, one to two servings a day, two to three, three to five, and more than five a day.
Each participant was also measured for height, weight, BMI (body mass index) and waist circumference. A BMI of 18.5 was considered underweight, 18.5 to 25 was “normal” weight, and above 25 was considered obese.
For the study, total kimchi was defined as cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi and watery kimchi. One portion of cabbage or radish kimchi is 50 grams, while one portion of watery kimchi is 95 grams.
Researchers from Chung Ang University in South Korea defined abdominal obesity as a waist circumference of at least 35 inches for men and at least 33 inches for women.
Results found that consuming a moderate amount of kimchi showed a decrease in fat for overweight people — but too much caused an increase in fat.
After accounting for outside factors, the researchers discovered that consuming up to three daily services of total kimchi saw an 11% lower occurrence of being overweight, compared to consuming less than one serving.
Compared to less than one daily serving, they found that three or more servings of cabbage kimchi for men was associated with a 10% lower prevalence of being overweight, as well as a 10% lower prevalence for high levels of abdominal fat.
For women, two to three daily servings of cabbage kimchi were associated with an 8% lower prevalence of being overweight, and one to two daily services were associated with a 6% lower prevalence of high levels of abdominal fat.
However, those who ate too much kimchi — five or more servings per day — weighed more, had a bigger waist size and were more likely to be overweight compared to the participants who had less than one daily serving.