Eat like a Korean, it’s far healthier!
If you were to name something that came to mind when you hear about Korean food, what would you think? Barbecued meat, spicy food, dog meat and maybe kimchi would all come to mind. Did you know that Korean food is also one of the healthiest cuisines in the world? Most dinners have a maximum calorie intake of less than 600 calories. Compare that to eating a pizza that has well over 1,000 calories and it’s not hard to see why Koreans aren’t known for being obese.
Here are a number of reasons why Korean food can be great for you:
- Soups – A meal isn’t a meal in Korea without some kind of soup. They’re a great way of filling yourself up without providing huge amounts of calories.
- Meat – Meat isn’t the focal point of a meal in Korea, it’s an accompaniment. This means the amount of saturated fat that a Korean eats is very low. On the occasions that a Korean may have plenty of meat in their meal, like samgyeopsal, it is usually grilled to well that the fat has rendered off the meat.
- Lack of oil – Many Korean dishes are stewed, grilled or boiled which means there isn’t a need to cook the food in high in fat oils. Not only is it healthier but it tastes better too!
- Kimchi – An acquired taste for some, kimchi is one of the healthiest foods in the world as it contains plenty of minerals and vitamins, as well as aiding digestion. Some Koreans go as far as to claim it can ward off a number of major diseases like bird flu, but as of yet there is no evidence to support this.
- Vegetables – Korean foods have a large variety of vegetables in them. Mushrooms, potatoes, leaves of some kind and cabbage are all found in most dishes.
- Spice – Koreans love spicy food. There aren’t too many dishes in the Korean kitchen that come out without some form of chilli heat to it. Given that chilli is known to speed up the metabolism, it’s a great way of making sure those extra calories are burned off.
- Dessert – Koreans aren’t big on desserts, in fact they aren’t massive on sweet food either. A typical dessert in Korea consists of an orange, some watermelon or another kind of fruit. Not only is this healthy, but it leaves your palate clean and you feel refreshed, instead of bogged down by the meal you’ve just had.
- Teas – Green tea is well-known for its health benefits but Korean also drink a lot of barley tea. This delicious drink helps the digestive system and is frequently found consumed with a meal.
- Snacks – You could walk down any street in Korea and instead of children with their heads in a packet of crisps, you’ll see them peeling a freshly baked sweet potato, or some cooked squid. These foods are obviously much healthier alternative and fill you up for longer.
These are some of the reasons why Korean food is so healthy. You have to watch the amount of rice you eat, but if you were to stick with a Korean diet for a month, most people would find they start to shed the pounds. Rather depressingly, the increase in Western food chains in Korea has seen a rapid increase in obesity with burgers, chips and snacks finding their way into school lunchboxes.
Given that January is meant to be a health conscious month, why not give it a go?
James learnt to cook in the restaurants of Seoul and now back in the UK. He teaches Korean cooking classes in London, as well as blogging about Korean food on his website. You can visit his website for more information and recipes.