Is Kimchi safe during Pregnancy?
Adding fermented food into your prenatal diet during pregnancy is one of the best way to add good bacteria to your gut, good for both you and the baby.
Keep in mind that not all fermented foods are equal. Though cheese may be fermented, it is known to not have the same health benefits as Kimchi. The main difference is the presence of live microbes. Fermented food like Kimchi, Yogurt, Kefir have them, while cheese doesn't.
Dr. David S. Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health mentions that though fermented food like yogurt may be the easiest to add to our diets, he encourages people to extend their range a little.
Continue on to learn more about Kimchi and what you should know about eating kimchi during pregnancy!
Benefits of Kimchi During Pregnancy
Kimchi, is a traditional Korean side dish made by salting and fermenting vegetables, such as Napa cabbage, Korean radish and spring onion. Here are some of its health benefits:
- Yeast infections are especially common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Eating Kimchi during pregnancy may protect against Candida, a fungal infection caused by yeast.
- Lactobacillus found in Kimchi from lacto-fermentation helps improves immunity, which is compromised during pregnancy.
- Excessive inflammation during pregnancy is linked to developmental issues in babies. Animal studies have found that, HDMPPA, a compound found in Kimchi helps decrease inflammation and may be connected to improving blood vessel health.
- Kimchi is high in folate, which is important in the formation of red blood cell and for healthy cell growth and function. This nutrient is crucial during early pregnancy to reduce risk of birth defects of the brain and spine.
Choosing your Kimchi
Packed with nutrients, vitamins, and multiple health benefits, Kimchi is arguably a great pregnancy food. But there are some things to consider to make sure that you're eating right.
If you have dietary restrictions and you're looking for quality Kimchi, go for brands that are well known, reputable and have an online presence so as to get customer reviews and information about the product. We recommend purchasing brands with an SFA approved license for precaution.
Every brand should list all the ingredients that go into the Kimchi so you can avoid any allergen you may not be able to consume. Most commercial brand Kimchi should have a nutritional fact for you to refer to incase you have some restrictions. Avoid any Kimchi made with raw fish and shrimp as these can increase contracting food-borne illnesses.
Natural vs Pasteurized Kimchi
Multiple sources have recommended pasteurized kimchi during pregnancy to lower risks of introducing harmful bacteria. While pasteurisation makes the Kimchi safer for pregnant women to eat, it also alters the flavour and texture of the dish.
Traditional Kimchi is not pasteurised, so most supermarket brands household Kimchi and Korean brands you see are most likely not pasteurised. Unpasteurized Kimchi undergoes natural fermentation with no heating. Harmful bacteria are killed off by naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria, while allowing its own culture to thrive over a long period of time.
There are two types of probiotics in Kimchi: Raw natural probiotic and added probiotic supplements.
As much as possible we recommended sticking to raw naturally balanced probiotic content in kimchi instead of pasteurized kimchi. If you want to get the full probiotics goodness of Kimchi, check that the Kimchi you're getting are "naturally fermented" and contain live bacteria. Another telltale sign is if you notice bubbles in the liquid.
Pasteurized Kimchi undergoes heat treatment which kills off all living probiotics and bacteria culture, added with supplements and then sealed in the jar.
Canned Vs. Non-Canned Kimchi
Canned Kimchi is usually pasteurized with added preservative, this allows for a longer storage duration of around a year. While most non-canned varieties often last up to 4 months.
Photo by Portuguese Gravity
Fresh Vs. Fermented Kimchi
If you love sour Kimchi go for the fermented ones! You can even let it sit outside the fridge for a couple of hours to ferment even more before consuming~
If you're pregnant or have medical conditions that do not allow you to consume overly acidic food, then go for freshly made Kimchi. Choosing fresh Kimchi means that you get to decide how long you want to let it ferment for before consuming! We recommend letting the Kimchi sit in the fridge for a month to allow sufficient fermentation. Consume the Kimchi when it is 1-2 months old.
To find out more about Fresh Kimchi visit our article: What is Fresh Kimchi?
Raw Kimchi Vs Cooked Kimchi
Cooking your Kimchi with heat will definitely kill any bacteria and live culture in the Kimchi. This will make the Kimchi safer for pregnant ladies to have, you'll still have the benefits of eating high-quality vegetables from heated Kimchi but this also means that you'll lose the probiotics in it.
Prefer to have a meal cooked with Kimchi? Check out some of our recipes!
Want to make your own Kimchi during pregnancy?
If you're experienced in making Kimchi and have been doing for years you may continue to do so. But if you're a novice it is safer to go for store bought Kimchi when you're pregnant as it is difficult to maintain health and safety measures with home-made Kimchi. Most off the shelf Kimchi is high in sodium, so do look out for the nutrition label and consume in moderation if you choose those.
*BONUS* Tip from our Ahjummas
Avoid "cooling" vegetables when possible. So instead of the regular Cabbage Kimchi, try Spring Onion Kimchi! Try JIN Kimchi's Spring Onion Kimchi!
But like everything you eat, practice moderation!
Can you have JIN Kimchi during Pregnancy?
About our Kimchi:
- JIN Kimchi makes Fresh Kimchi daily in Singapore! That means you get non-sour Kimchi that you can ferment to your taste / have it fresh!
- We make our Kimchi in a SFA approved Kitchen!
- Our Chef is a Korean who has decades of experience handling and making Kimchi, so you can be assured of our quality~
- We've been selling Kimchi for almost 3 years now. We're loved by more than 35K Singaporeans and amassed thousands of reviews online!
- We make our Kimchi the traditional way before sealing it in glass jars (no plastic leaching! YAY!).
- We make our Kimchi the traditional way, like how a mom would've made them. This means, less sodium and sugar! Most of our Kimchi and Side Dishes are MSG free!
- Our Kimchi are mildly spiced, even kids enjoy them!
- Our Kimchi does not contain raw fish or shrimp! 👍🏻
- We clean our equipment and surfaces throughout the process and change gloves in between each step! This prevents harmful microbes from spoiling the fermentation.
There are no official paper that says that you should not have Kimchi during pregnancy. But above are some details about JIN Kimchi that you could consider! Everyone's body is different, so what may work for some one else may not work for you. Ultimately, we advise you to find a Kimchi that is suitable for your needs. When unsure, we always recommend seeking medical advice from your doctors for extra precaution! 🤗
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