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Stephanie D. Murillo
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What Makes the Korean Food Healthy to Eat?

Are you a dieter who loves Korean food? If so, then you’ve probably wondered to know that Korean food is healthy. The fact is that traditional Korean food is one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. Most of the Korean dinners have a maximum calorie intake of fewer than 600 calories. Compare it with eating a pizza that offers more than 1000 calories and it is not hard to know why Koreans are not obese as compared to American people. According to research, South Korea claims an obesity rate of just 3.5% which is lesser than the United States (34.4%).

Korean cuisines are globally famous for being spicy, delicious and appetizing. Traditional Korean diet typically consists of the foods gathered from the sea (fish, shellfish, and seaweed) and the foods produced in the country (vegetables, beans, rice, etc.). The unique Korean diet has plenty of health benefits, as well as having some risks associated with it as well. Some Korean dishes are not healthy because they are made of sugar or sodium containing sauces. However, these sauces can be quickly turned into the healthful dish by using safe culinary techniques.

Korean Food Culture:

The culinary tools, techniques, and technologies used for making Korean food are the healthy types. Stir-frying, grilling, stewing and fermenting are the most common ways to cook Korean foods, all of which means that they are nutritive and full of flavours. Fermented foods are one the most crucial parts of the traditional Korean diet which were developed 1700 years ago.  Koreans developed these foods to store and eat in other seasons.

Though Koreans focus on the culinary style for the preparation of dishes, they pay great attention to the way in which food is served. In Korean food culture, all the dishes are served at the same time. A typical meal includes Joo-sik (staple foods), Joo-chan (main dishes) and Boo-chan (side dishes). Because of having different dishes in a meal, they eat small amounts which make them fuller and satisfying for a long time. Traditionally, lower classes have three side dishes, whereas royal families have twelve. Like in neighboring Japan and Chinese, Korean people eat with chopsticks. Hence, they use a spoon when soups are served. In Korea, formal rules have also developed for table setting, which can differ depending on whether meat dish or a noodle is served.

Image credit by discoversg
Image credit by discoversg

Health Benefits of Korean Food

When one adopts the Korean culinary style, he/she can expect the following health benefits:

  • Lower risks for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, strokes, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and heart muscle disease,
  • Make internal organs (liver and kidneys) stronger and healthier.
  • Lower risks for certain kinds of cancer.
  • Improve digestion because of easily digestible food.
  • Healthier skin because of having lesser amounts of preservative.
  • Strengthen bones since the beans and mushrooms have isoflavones.
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H2>Here are some reasons which make Korean food good for you:

  • Soups

A Korean meal is not completed without some soup. They are perfect appetizers to fill you up without providing a huge amount of calories, as they comprise of tofu, fish, shellfish or any combination of those ingredients.

  • Meat

Fatty fish and seafood are commonly eaten by Korean people, while on the occasions, lean beef, chicken breasts, and fish are consumed. Using meat in grilled or stewed form, Koreans consume a very low amount of saturated fat.

image credit by cook-wise
image credit by cook-wise
  • Rice

In Korea, short-grain rice (sushi rice) accompanies most every meal. Short-grain white rice is lower on the glycemic index and helps you feel satisfied for longer. You can easily find this rice at a Korean grocery store.

  • Lack of oil

Most of the Korean dishes are boiled, grilled or stewed. It means that there is not a need of plenty of oil to cook food. A small amount of oil in Korean dishes not only gives them a better taste but also makes them healthier.

  • Vegetables

Rice, vegetables, and meats are commonly used to prepare Korean cuisines. Korean foods contain a huge variety of vegetables in them. Cabbage, spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, and bean sprouts can be found in most dishes.

  • Spices

Koreans love to eat super spicy food. A lot of dishes in the Korean kitchen are not prepared without some chilli. Korean chilli is recognized to boost up the metabolism, so adding them to a meal is a great way of ensuring those extra calories are burned off.

image credit by cfile4.uf.tistory
image credit by cfile4.uf.tistory
  • Desserts

People in Korea are not big on desserts; in fact, they don’t like cooked or baked sweet dishes. A typical Korean dessert comprises of a fresh orange, some watermelon slices or another kind of fruit. Not only is it healthy, but it gives you a refreshing feel, instead of heaviness after a meal.

  • Teas

The teas such as green and ginseng are also known in Korea; as they are full of antioxidants and support the body systems. Well, barley tea is the most favourite tea of Koreans. This delicious tea is well-known for its health benefits. It not only aids the digestive system but also improves the overall health.

  • Snacks
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A plenty of street foods are available in any street of Korea. You can consume those foods at your snack time. Sweet Korean Pancake (Hotteok), Fish Cakes (Odeng/Uhmook), Fried Rice Cake Skewers (Ddeokggochi), Tornado Potato (Hweori Gamja) and Fried Squid (Ojingeo Twigim) are one of the most popular and magical street foods in Korea. They are often freshly prepared, so they are healthier alternatives that can fill you up for longer.

Image credit by koreanbapsang
Image credit by koreanbapsang

10 Healthy Korean Foods

Luckily, the Korean cuisine has lots of delicious options that offer great health and beauty benefits. Here are some tasty and versatile foods that can support you eat your way to becoming healthier and younger:

  1. Kimchi

Koreans typically consume 100-200 grams of kimchi per day, according to research. It is a traditional food staple in Korea, made with a mix of veggies, garlic, vinegar, salt, red pepper and other spices. Cabbage is widely used to make kimchi. However, radish, cucumber, green onions and many other vegetables are used to make variations. This fermented dish is served at every meal, either alone and with rice or noodles. Kimchi not only gives a kick to any other meal but also offers various minerals and vitamins to our health. It has probiotics that supports in digestion and the garlic in it improves your skin and hair health. The Vitamin A found in kimchi also helps in maintaining clear vision and eliminates cancer-causing toxins from your body.   

image credit by diyhealthremed
image credit by diyhealthremed
  1. Bap (steamed rice)

Boiled rice is the staple food in Korea, as it is consumed with almost every meal. Bap, a Korean steamed rice dish, is sticky in texture and combined with barley, red beans or other cereals for additional flavour and nutrition.

Image credit by cfs11
Image credit by cfs11
  1. Boricha (roasted barley tea)

Open the fridge in a typical Korean home and you will surely find a jug of boricha, a roasted barley tea. It can also be served warm and is a great year-round staple that is easy to include into your diet. This delicious tea is caffeine-free and low in calories, as well as having antioxidant properties that help prevent wrinkles.

image credit by cfile215.uf.daum
image credit by cfile215.uf.daum
  1. Doenjang (fermented soybean paste)

Like kimchi, doenjang is also fermented and offers several health benefits. The acids present in doenjang not only help reduce blood pressure but also keep the cholesterol level at normal. Additionally, this Korean dish is also a great source of isoflavones which is potent to create new bone matter for healthy bones.

Image credit by findfood
Image credit by findfood
  1. Miyeokgook (seaweed soup)

In Korea, Miyeokgook symbolizes good health; that’s why people love to eat seaweed soup at birthdays and after giving birth. It contains a rich content of iodine which helps reduce swelling, and is also a great source of calcium to strengthen bones. With lots of fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, seaweed is the green superfood that we should incorporate into our diets.

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Image credit by koreanbapsang
Image credit by koreanbapsang
  1. Kkaet-ip (sesame/perilla leaves)

Perilla leaves are an aromatic, mineral-rich food that is beneficial to lower blood pressure and to fight against oxidative damage in the liver. Kkaet-ip is specially made with sesame or perilla leaves wrapped with rice and doenjang, which make a full-of-nutrient snack.

image credit by pinterest
image credit by pinterest
  1. Dan-hobak juk (kabocha squash porridge)

Hobak juk is a warm, sweet porridge oats squash, made from kabocha squash, which is similar to butternut squash. In addition to being a low-calorie alternative to butternut, kabocha is a great source of beta-carotene that may help boost immunity and keep skin and hair healthy. It also has fiber, which helps in weight loss and digestion.

Image credit by atmedia
Image credit by atmedia
  1. Ddukbokki (rice cake)

Ddukbokki is a famous Korean dish, prepared with rice cake mixed with fish cakes, onions, and garlic. It is very hot and spicy and also has plenty of the health benefits. This Korean cuisine is very low in fat, as one serving of Ddubokki contains 378 calories.

Image credit by koreanbapsang
Image credit by koreanbapsang
  1. Bae (Asian pear)

This Korean dish can do a lot for you. The fiber found in Bae helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. However, the vitamin K found in it can regulate blood function. One large Asian pear may also offer a huge content of vitamin C which is the equivalent of a daily intake of vitamin C. So; it can repair and strengthen bones and teeth. In addition to aiding you on the inside, this tasty Korean dish can also be sliced into pieces and placed on the eyes to get rid of dark circles and puffiness.

Image credit by pinterest
Image credit by pinterest
  1. Insam (ginseng)

Korean people consume ginseng through tea, tablets/supplements, and even dishes such as samgyetang (chicken and ginseng soup). Packed with powerful antioxidants, Insam (ginseng) has been associated with the reduction of stress and LDL cholesterol level. It also helps boost immunity and give clear, glowing skin.

Image credit by salute.leonardo
Image credit by salute.leonardo

Do you want to taste authentic Korean food in Dubai? Visit KPOP Chicken restaurant. It serves a delicious range of Korean cuisines which can truly satisfy your appetite. Now you can enjoy its distinctive menu in the comfort of your home or workplace. Place your order with PapaOrder and get your ordered food to your doorstep. To book your order, click here.

Stephaine D. Murillo is a Dubai-based American professional nutritionist who tells the secrets of a healthy and longer life. She is ambitious to find the significant benefits of a nutritional and balanced diet. She guides food lovers about the health benefits and drawbacks of vegetables, fruits and other types of food. She loves to share information about food & health through Papaorder Blog. So, subscribe Papaorder blog to get her health & food tips.

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