A traditional Korean meal of rice, Dwoenjang-jjigye or soybean paste stew, kimchi and potherbs proves as healthy as the celebrated Mediterranean and Japan’s Okinawan meals. The secret is Vitamin B-12 hidden in fermented food like soybean paste and kimchi.
Prof. Park Sang-chul at Seoul National University’s college of medicine said Wednesday that B-12, which had been thought to be found in meat only, was also present in soy sauce, soybean paste, kimchi and laver. “This is the reason why the elderly in Korea, who do not consume much meat, do not lack B-12,” Park said.
Lack of B-12 increases the risk of stomach cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and leads to deterioration of cognition, eyesight and hearing abilities. However, ageing compromises the ability to absorb B-12. “Three years ago at an international conference, an American professor asked me how Koreans over the age of 100 who don’t eat much meat have normal levels of B-12 when over 30 percent of those in western society suffer from lack of B-12. Now I know the answer,” Park said.
Park also said parboiled vegetables are healthier than fresh fruit and vegetables. Because of widespread use of nitrogenous fertilizer, there are nitrates in vegetables that can turn into carcinogenic nitrosamines in bodies. Park said he confirmed that boiling vegetables for one minute reduces nitrates by more than half. Park plans to give a lecture on the subject at the 15th International Congress of Dietetics in Yokohama, Japan on Sept. 10.
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