Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is Kimchee Good for Your Skin?

KIMCHEE: Fermented Korean pickled cabbage
Growing up in a Korean family, kimchee (Korean fermented pickled cabbage) was always in the fridge and served with dinner main dishes. It's true, Koreans do consume a lot of kimchee. The average Korean consumes about 40kg of kimchee a year. And even my not so average Korean parents whom have all kinds of self-imposed dietary restrictions -- no-spice, practically vegan -- for hopes of long-life, eat kimchee everyday. Being an obsessively minded beauty writer, the question I asked myself recently was: is kimchee good for your skin?

This question came about because Koreans are absolutely obsessed with good skin. I was always encouraged, err... forced (the threat being that I would GASP! have tragically BAD skin) to eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables and foods on the pure basis that it was good for my complexion from as far back as I can remember. "Eat tomatoes because it's good for your skin!" urged my mother. "Eat that tofu because it's good for your complexion!" "You better finish that cucumber because it's (you got it, readers...) good for your skin!" And kimchee was always there for the eating.

Good skin is just exceedingly important in Korean culture. Historically, a woman's skin was really the essence of their beauty, and if you think about the more minimalistic features of Korean faces, it makes sense on a purely aesthetic sense: skin is the more prominent feature, other than bone structure.

Example of what would be considered beauitful skin in Korea on Korean Model in Traditional Korean Clothing. Repost from

My research showed that kimchee is high in vitamins A and C. Both these vitamins are antioxidants, which help your body fight against free radicals. Vitamin C, in particular helps with the body's production of collagen, which helps keeps skin more elastic. Hmmmm, sounding like a very strong case for kimchee = great skin. But, then again, kimchee has a very high sodium count, one serving having about roughly 45-65 percent of an individuals recommended intake. And, the average Korean eats kimchee three times a day. A high salt diet causes bloating, and puffiness. Puffy face, um, no thanks.

So the results of my study? Maybe kimchee does provide some nutritional value that is good for skin, but I think it's more about how Korean culture takes such pride in caring for skin from the inside out -- through food and dietary knowledge, and passion. Anything flourishes with that much care -- as skin, is an organ, and needs a lot of TLC. Koreans just think skincare is serious business and start the skin education and care, from birth.

Hey, maybe you'll choose to try a kimchee grilled cheese sandwich at your next meal, who knows? But good skin, starts from great nutrition and from being good to your body as a whole.

-- N.C.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the companies I write and vlog about. My picks and decisions are always editorially and artistically-based and independent.


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