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Make Your Kimchi Taste Better

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Kimchi, a staple in Korean cuisine, is a famous traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and Korean radishes. Kimchi has been regarded worldwide as a functional health food, and the antioxidant, antiobesity, and antidiabetic activities of kimchi have been widely studied. Kimchi is often supplemented with spices, plants, herbal medicines, and marine foodstuffs to improve the flavor, functionality and nutritional quality. For instance, adding mushrooms, sea tangle extracts, and mustard leaves to kimchi yields final kimchi preparations with powerful antioxidant properties.

A recent Journal of Nutrition and Health (JNH) study investigated boosting the nutritional value of kimchi by the supplementation with extracts from brown teff seed. Brown teff (Eragrostis tef) is an annual cereal grass belonging to the family of the Poaceae. Like many ancient crops, teff is quite adaptive and can grow in various environmental conditions; particularly, teff can be cultivated in dry environments, but also under wet conditions on marginal soils. It is grown for its tiny seeds and for its straw to feed cattle and is similar to millet and quinoa.

In the JNH study, three commonly used commercial proteases were used to partially digest brown teff and measure the effects on color, kimchi flavor, and antioxidant levels. Here, the antioxidant capacity of brown teff extracts was measured using the DetectX® Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power (FRAP™) Detection Kit, K043-H1, from Arbor Assays. FRAP™ is a health aspect of food, and also in more clinical settings such as studies on atherosclerosis and aging.

Ye-Rang Yun and Sung-Hee Park showed high FRAP™ values in all brown teff hydrolysates with a maximum in the treatment with a protease called flavourzyme. The authors conclude the addition of teff hydrolysate to kimchi could enhance both the nutritional benefits and the acceptability of kimchi.

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