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Can Kimchi Protect Us Against Covid-19?

A recent study correlates between regularly eating fermented vegetables to low Covid-19 fatality rates

If you’re like us, then a bottle of kimchi is a staple in your pantry, to be happily used in everything from fried rice and omelets, to stews and steaks. If so, you’ll be glad to know that the kimchi is currently the focus of several studies looking at its antiviral properties and whether or not it provides protection against the novel coronavirus which causes covid-19. 

Kimchi and sauerkraut might have effective properties in combating covid-19, suggests Dr. Jean Bousquet of Pulmonary Medicine in Montpellier University in France. A preliminary report published in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Allergy found that in countries were fermented cabbage and other vegetables were an integral part of people’s diets, fatality rates from were considerably lower from covid-19. 

One hypothesis is that fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut reduces levels of ACE2, a protein that sticks to the cell membranes of our lungs, and is used by covid-19 as an entry point into the body. Consuming large amounts of fermented cabbage brings down ACE2 levels, making it more difficult for the virus to enter the body. 

However, it’s important to remember that other factors are involved in South Korea’s lower fatality rates, including easy access to medical services, the government’s quick response, and strict implementation of social distancing. 

The studies are in the preliminary stage though. “Eating kimchi does not prevent coronavirus infection,” said the South Korean Health Ministry in a press conference.

In the meantime, kimchi does have proven health benefits. It’s rich in Vitamin C, fiber, minerals and contains probiotics that help boost the immune system. Plus it’s low in fat and calories. Dr. Bousquet is now also studying the possible role of antioxidants and lactic acid bacteria in cabbage and fermented vegetables in protecting against severe covid-19.

Meanwhile, reactions on Twitter are amusing, like this one:

And it's hilarious response: 

In the meantime, we're still eating as much kimchi as we can. After all, it's healthy and really, really delicious -- a win-win!

Lead photo: Portuguese Gravity, Unsplash