Kimchi: Fermented Korean cuisine for cancer prevention

Kimchi: Fermented Korean cuisine for cancer prevention

The death rate due to cancer has been rising all over the world. Early diagnosis and treatment with lesser side effects or no side effects and great efficacy always remains the first priority of the scientists. Today, there are a number of treatments of cancers that used to halt and terminate various cancer cell lines. For instance, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

In the present day, the interest in food-derived anti-tumor or chemopreventive agents has been rising due to its potential efficacy with very few side effects.

Cancer prevention or chemoprevention are the terms involved in the management of cancer using relatively safe or nontoxic chemical components derived from plant extracts. The intake of healthy green leafy vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables, spinach, peas, soy and avoiding processed meat, red meat and junk/fried food are some of the best ways to reduce the risk of various types of cancer.

The regular consumption of such anti-cancer foods are also searched for its efficacy in the context of anti-tumor drugs, lower chemotherapeutic associated toxicity or to cease the cancer development.

Probiotics are also out of these anti-cancer foods which became the center of attraction. Probiotics are the microorganisms or food substances, which aids in improving intestinal microflora. These probiotics are also consumed in the form of dietary supplements due to its potential health benefits. For instance suppression of diarrhea, improved immune system and suppression of carcinogenesis.


Kimchi is one of the famous fermented probiotic foods containing potent high levels of lactic acid bacteria. It is the most widely consumed and renowned dish of Korea.

Kimchi has been consumed since the 3rd or 4th century A.D. This is made up of fermenting radish or Chinese cabbage. There are about 200 different types of kimchi you can find in Korea.

Let's discuss the following things about Kimchi:

  1. Health benefits of kimchi
  2. Lactic acid bacteria in kimchi
  3. Anticancer effects of kimchi
  4. Other fermented foods
  5. Conclusion


Kimchi is a vegetable probiotic, which contains similar potential health benefits as other fermented food items, for instance yogurt. This fermented food is known to manage health problems like constipation, high bad cholesterol, obesity, aging, oxidative stress, brain disorders, weak immunity, skin concerns, colorectal health and various types of cancers.


Probiotics bacteria present in kimchi are the major reason behind their broad range of benefits.
Evident from the pyrosequencing analysis of kimchi samples, it is found that genus Weissella predominantly present in this fermented dish, including W. cibaria and W. koreensis.


  • There have been various analyses stated on the lactic acid bacteria functionality in the process of kimchi fermentation, and their significance in improving health, including prevention of cancer. This indispensable fermented cabbage, in general, is a healthy food known to possess significant cancer preventive properties. The anticarcinogenic/cancer preventive activity of this Korean dish is correlated with the ingredients types and products emerged while fermentation
  • The key ingredient, Chinese cabbage, is known to be effective against preventing stomach cancer. As per the epidemiologic studies, this ingredient is known to obstruct colorectal carcinogenesis. This property of kimchi is due the abundance of dietary fiber found in Chinese cabbage.
  • Garlic, other important ingredient of kimchi found to have acknowledged anti-cancer actions against cancers like prostate cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer. This property of this ingredient is due to its organosulfur compounds.
  • Garlic is known to contain a total of 33 types of organosulfur compounds. These compounds are known to exhibit potent anti-proliferative and apoptotic activities. Another potential mechanism of garlic in cancer prevention is its antimicrobial actions against Helicobacter pylori, which is known to be a key risk factor of stomach cancer.
  • Other than cabbage and garlic, the kimchi also contains red chillies. This is also one of the major ingredients of this dish. These chilies contain a phytochemical, capsaicin. This phytochemical is known to possess significant anti-carcinogenic properties.
    The anti-carcinogenic actions of capsaicin are cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. In one of the analyses, capsaicin found to cease pre-neoplastic breast lesions development up to 80% with no side effects in the patients with breast cancer.
  • The kimchi also known to reduce the risk of leukemia and gastric adenocarcinoma via its anti-proliferative, reduced mitochondrial transmembrane potential and apoptosis.
  • The lactic acid bacteria present in this dish possesses potential anti-cancer actions. These bacteria inhibit the activity of carcinogen-initiating enzymes, inactivates the pathogenic microbes functionality and neutralizes the cancer-initiation agents.
  • Along with its potent anti-cancer actions, this Korean dish is also known to strengthens the body's immune system, decreases serum cholesterol levels, enhances bowel movement and reduces hepatic cirrhosis. All these together also helps to reduce the risk of getting cancer.
  • This is the reason you should include Kimchi into your regular diet. It not only improves your overall health but also prevents your body cells from being converted into cancerous cells.

How much Kimchi can consume per day?

100 grams of kimchi a day is enough to consume to get all the benefits out of this amazing dish.


Some of the most renowned fermented foods other than kimchi are kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, natto, tempeh, sourdough bread, fermented milk products and miso.

Sourdough bread

This dish is formulated by fermenting the dough via yeast and lactobacilli.


This is a traditional cuisine of Indonesian. It is made of soy by fermenting soybeans.


It is a fermented drink made of milk. It looks like thin yogurt.


This dish is the fermented sweetened green or black tea.


It is a traditional Japanese seasoning formulated via fermenting soybeans with koji, salt, sometimes barley, rice, seaweed, or other components.
Fermented milk products.

These are also renowned with the name of cultured dairy foods, prepared by fermenting the milk with lactic acid bacteria, for instance, Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, and Leuconostoc.


Kimchi is a great fermented food with potent antibiotic tolerant probiotics. By possessing potential anti-cancer properties and suppressing the activity of carcinogen activating enzymes, this Korean dish amazingly helps in cancer prevention. Other than kimchi, you can also try other fermented products on a regular basis. All these fermented products are healthy, safe and effective to consume.

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