Food items that are Asian infused are getting more attention nowadays. While Japanese food and Chinese take-out menu options have been quite around, new flavors and ingredients are being brought to the spotlight with each passing day. One such country from Asia that is currently getting global attention in Korea and it has taken the world by storm in terms of pop music and cuisine. One popular ingredient of Korean dishes is Gochujang Red Pepper Paste and while this food item is indeed flavorful and delicious, the question remains “Is Gochujang Red Pepper Paste healthy or beneficial?” In this article, we will look at what Gochujang Red Pepper Paste is and if it can really contribute to improved overall health. Read on and find out!
Gochujang Red Pepper Paste: A Brief Backgrounder
For those who have already been to a barbecue that is Korean themed, the Korean condiment known as Gochujang may be somewhat of a familiar taste and sight. It includes various ingredients such as glutinous rice, soybean that is fermented, and red chili pepper. Its name is derived from two (2) Korean words Gochu and Jang which stand for chili and paste respectively. This condiment has been proven to be a delicious and flavorful ingredient to most Korean dishes but there is evidence to suggests that Gochujang can be good for one’s health too.
The prototype of this Korean Chili paste employed fermentation and storage in clay pots which can sometimes take years before being ready for consumption. At present, gochujang utilizes processes that are more modern to bring out the pungent and rich flavor of this chili paste. The flavor that is most distinct for this Korean condiment comes from its two (2) main components which are its soybean paste that is fermented and its hot peppers. The paste from the soybean acts as an umami provider such as those tasted in miso. This also helps the Gochujang blend well with the fermentation’s sourness. To give it its paste its thick texture, glutinous rice is also added to the chili paste. Gochujang has also been described as having a sweetness that is mild due to the sugar found in its glutinous rice content.
Another question that may be asked by most people is how spicy is this Korean condiment? Generally speaking, the chili present in most Gochujang products can be classified as mild but it still depends on how much chili is actually used when preparing the paste. Going through the different kinds of Gochujang in stores will even reveal the wide range of hotness levels available to consumers- from mild to hot, and all the way to extremely hot Gochujang. Its label will usually have an indicator of how spicy the Gochujang can be. Those tagged with the number 4 will usually be very spicy while those with a number three (3) can be classified as moderate.
Gochujang Red Pepper Paste: What Are Its Health Benefits?
Enumerated below are some of its health benefits:
Contains certain vitamins
While Gochujang Red Pepper Paste is not considered a superfood and is not even considered a good source of the majority of vitamins, it does not mean that this Korean paste is completely lacking any nutritional value. The ingredients of Gochujang include soy protein and chili peppers, which are food items that are considered rich in vitamins. Depending on the size of the serving or the portion and also depending on the brand, people can expect to get small amounts of vitamins from the aforementioned ingredients. Vitamin A is readily found and obtained in Chili peppers and consuming Gochujang can help individuals acquire vitamin A (even in small amounts). Vitamin A is a critical vitamin if one is after the prevention of cancer and for the enhancement of vision or the health of the eyes.
In addition, some brands of Gochujang will contain traces of vitamin C, a vitamin that will also come from the pepper used to create the chili paste. Vitamin C is crucial for the absorption of iron and for the proper performance of the immune system. Vitamin B is also present in the soy and pepper of gochujang which means that there are also minute amounts of Pyroxidine, riboflavin, and thiamin with each portion of gochujang.
Good source of protein
Those who love Korean dishes will certainly look for that specific umami flavor that will go well with the chili paste’s color and heat. This profile of the umami flavor is usually associated with the spice’s soybeans. But the flavor is not the only thing soybeans can provide as it can also be a fantastic protein source for the body to build its tissues and muscle fiber.
It provides a certain amount of important minerals
Just like vitamins, this Korean paste can provide a number of minerals although not as much as other food items. People can get trace amounts of minerals also found in soybeans and red peppers. Iron can be obtained in some Gochujang brands which can then be used by the body in the production of RBCs or Red blood cells. Soybeans that are fermented are also excellent sources of other important minerals such as magnesium and calcium and people can obtain these minerals from the said Korean chili paste. Magnesium and calcium help the body in the development of bones that are healthy which in turn, makes them critical in the prevention of a bone condition known as osteoporosis. Lastly, gochujang’s red bell pepper content is loaded with the mineral potassium. This nutrient is crucial in the maintenance of cellular fluids and for carrying synapses between cells.
It contains Capsaicin
People see Gochujang as the Korean hot sauce. This is because it contains red chili peppers which in turn gets its levels of spiciness from a compound known as capsaicin. capsaicin has a number of health benefits which include fighting off prostate and breast cancer and aid the body in addressing gastric ulcers.