Question: What type of superfoods has recently gained popularity in South Korea?
Answer: Super grains like lentils, quinoa and chia seeds.
According to the online Oxford Dictionary, “superfood” is “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”. Like people in other countries, Koreans are now more concerned about their health and well-being. In South Korea, there are some supermarkets which have specific sections for superfoods.
The most well-known Korean superfood is kimchi (김치), which is made of fermented vegetables. Kimchi contains dietary fibers and various vitamins and minerals and is low in calories. There are studies which revealed that kimchi can help fight against bacteria and cancer and prevent ageing and obesity. In 2006, the American monthly magazine, Health, chose kimchi as one of the five healthiest food in the world – the other four were India’s lentils, Spain’s olive oil, Greece’s yogurt and Japan’s soy foods.
Recently, another healthiest food, lentils, have gained popularity in South Korea. In May 2014, Lee Hyori, a Korean singer and entertainer well-known for her slim and healthy body figure, disclosed her breakfast menu (which included lentils) on her blog. She recommended boiling the lentils first and frying them with a little olive oil and vinegar. Monthly sales of lentils increased from 25 tons in May 2014 to 3,317 tons in September 2014. Although sales dipped in November 2014, the figure still stood at 2,593 tons. Comedian Yang Hae-rim published a lentil recipe book which was sold out in 15 days. The Koreans also start trying other super grains like quinoa and chia seeds.
The super grains are nutrient-rich. For example, when compared to brown rice, quinoa is low in calories and contains twice as much protein and four times as much calcium. Lentils contains nutrients such as potassium, calcium, protein and fiber which help lower cholesterol and mitigate cancer and heart-related problems. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and minerals.
You may join the Koreans and consider adding some super grains to your diet. However, like other health foods, eating too much super grains may have negative effects like diarrhea and allergies. As always, a balanced diet should be the top priority.
Happy and healthy eating! 🙂
Reminder: The next blog post will be published on 2 February 2015. Watch this space!
Sohn Jung-in, ““Super grain’ craze hit Korea“, Arirang News, 2015-01-17
Joshua Hall, “Korea’s new health fad: Lentils“, The Wall Street Journal Asia, 2014-11-19
Ock Hyun-ju, “Lee Hyori’s breakfast recipe on blog“, The Korea Herald, 2014-05-30
“Magazine calls kimchi ‘health food’“, Dong-A Ilbo, 2006-03-27
“Kimchi“, Korea Tourism Organization