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How to live longer: The Korean staple proven to aid weight loss and boost heart health

Heart disease, which is often used interchangeably with the term cardiovascular disease, generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the number one cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year. If you are seeking a long life, it is therefore imperative to stave off the mechanisms that underpin heart disease.

Two of the most common risk factors for heart disease are being overweight and having high cholesterol and the two are linked.

Take being overweight first. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), being overweight can lead to fatty material building up in your arteries.

“If the arteries that carry blood to your heart get damaged and clogged, it can lead to a heart attack,” the health body warns.

LDL cholesterol is one of the harmful types of fatty material because it sticks to the inside of your artery walls, thereby raising your risk of having a heart attack.

It is important to lower LDL cholesterol by increasing HDL cholesterol levels – this form of cholesterol picks up LDL cholesterol and transports it back to the liver where it is flushed out.

Diet holds the key to losing weight, lowering LDL levels and increasing HDL levels.

Certain items have been shown to boast all three benefits so eating them is essential for heart health.

A surprising all-rounder is kimchi – a traditional Korean dish made with salted, fermented vegetables.

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It typically contains cabbage and seasonings like sugar, salt, onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers.

Though usually fermented for a few days to a few weeks before serving, it can also be eaten fresh, or unfermented, immediately after preparation.

Weight loss benefits

Fresh and fermented kimchi are both low in calories and may boost weight loss, research suggests.

A four-week study in 22 people with excess weight found that eating fresh or fermented kimchi helped reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and body fat.

Additionally, the fermented variety decreased blood sugar levels, which is significant because high blood sugar levels can also contribute to heart disease.

Keep in mind that those who ate fermented kimchi displayed significantly greater improvements in blood pressure and body fat percentage than those who ate the fresh dish.

Research has also directly indicated that kimchi may reduce your risk of heart disease.

This may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties, as recent evidence suggests that inflammation may be an underlying cause of heart disease.

In an eight-week study in mice fed a high cholesterol diet, fat levels in the blood and liver were lower in those given kimchi extract than in the control group.

In addition, the kimchi extract appeared to suppress fat growth.

This is important because the accumulation of fat in these areas may contribute to heart disease.

Meanwhile, a week-long study in 100 people found that eating 0.5–7.5 ounces (15–210 grams) of kimchi daily significantly decreased blood sugar, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

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  • Posted on September 6, 2020