The search for a wonder drug that burns body fat and cholesterol leads to the Korean cuisine! Kochujang (KCJ), a fermented soybean-based red pepper paste, has been found to reduce body fat and improve blood lipid profile in overweight adults.
Negligence of traditional dietary lifestyle can easily be linked to the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases. Kochujang (KCJ) has long been a part of seasonings in Korean cuisine as a sauce, dressing or seasoning for meat, vegetable dishes, stew and soup. KCJ is a fermentation product of powdered red peppers combined with powdered meju (fermented soybean powder), salt, malt-digested rice syrup, and rice flour. It takes about six months for producing fermented KCJ.
AdvertisementThe taste and health benefits have made KCJ popular outside Korea in recent years. A number of scientific studies performed in animal models proved the potential of Kochujang in fighting obesity and genetic mutations. Anti-oxidative and cholesterol-lowering properties were also revealed. But the effects in humans remained unproven.
The potential benefits of KCJ in preventing and treating obesity and heart disease risks were never studied well till recently. Sixty men and women volunteers, 19 to 65 years of age, who were overweight, took part in a 12-week study in Korea. They were randomly assigned into two groups such that one group received KCJ supplementation while the other did not (i.e. the placebo group).
After 12 weeks, the group who received KCJ supplementation were found to have a significant reduction in visceral fat (body fat). No change in body weight or waist to hip ratio was observed, however. A decrease in the serum concentration of triglycerides and ApoB was observed in the KCJ group as compared to the placebo group. Elevated triglycerides and ApoB are linked with increased risk of heart disease and disease of blood vessels. An improved lipid profile (i.e. healthy levels of cholesterol, triglycerides etc.) reduces the risk of heart diseases.
The recorded biological effect of KCJ, a whole food, in free-living overweight adults brings a huge sigh of relief and is a definitive marker of the vitality of traditional foods. Kochujang can be a spicy ingredient in many dishes worldwide. Western diets may incorporate KCJ in ketchup or sauce. The exact underlying mechanism remains obscure. However, the researchers do warn about the high salt content of KCJ, which may not be so good for people with high blood pressure.
Reference: Kochujang, fermented soybean-based red pepper paste, decreases visceral fat and improves blood lipid profiles in overweight adults; Youn Soo Cha et al; BMC Nutrition and Metabolism 2013.