Are Kimchi and Sauerkraut Harmful

Image Credit: Nagyman / Flickr

Are kimchi and sauerkraut harmful?

Is there more information about this? Is this traditionally made kimchee rather than kimchee made in a manner similar to that of making sauerkraut? For that matter what about sauerkraut and other pickles?

aeason / Originally posted on Is Kimchi Good For You?


This was for traditional kimchi. I can’t find anything in the literature about sauerkraut either way, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out. It is high in sodium, so if you do eat it I would suggest moderating your intake. See, for example, my videos:

Image Credit: Nagyman / Flickr


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

9 responses to “Are kimchi and sauerkraut harmful?

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  1. What can you inform us about non-commercially produced laco-fermented vegetables? Also, any information on non-dairy kefir made with probiotic capsules?

    1. I’ll second that question. I see little in the literature related to human consumption, especially in terms of unsalted lacto-fermentation products like (homemade) rejuvelac, which is gaining popularity as a component in cultured vegan cheeses.

        1. Forgot to mention rejuvalac, and vegan yogurts and cheeses usually made from lactofermented almonds, quinoa, grains, cashews, soybeans etc., which usually don’t contain much salt.

  2. I have already decided to cut out salt to prevent stroke so no more salty fermented food for me. I miss miso the most. I have found low salt natto so will continue with natto which has vitamin k2. I also like tempeh which is a source of l-carnitine.

  3. I just found out about this Kimchi video recently and was greatly disturbed because I am Korean and I have been eating Kimchi almost daily all my life. I strongly doubt the validity of those studies you presented. Dr. Greger, I would like to know the details of the research and the other research related to Kimchi if there is any. Koreans have been eating Kimchi 1000+ years and had had much lower incidences of breast and prostate cancer than North america and Western European countries. Only recently as a result of westernization of dietary habits, incidences of breast cancer and prostate cancer are increasing in Korea. The claim that eating Kimchi increase breast and prostate cancer risk is hard to believe when I consider the history of cancer profile in Korea. Kimchi is introduced as healthy food and its popularity is growing worldwide. I hope you can find other studies that can save kimchi from its bad name. Thanks.

  4. Thank you, Dr. Greger, for your amazing public service and labor of love. If you end up finding more literature concerning lacto-fermented veggies such as sauerkraut, I’m hoping it addresses the question of the low-salt versions. I make fermented veggies at home all the time, but use starter culture and little-to-no salt. Even if high salt content is not an issue, might there still be carcinogens as a result of fermentation to still be concerned about?

  5. Are there any reliable studies on lacto-fermented foods? In considering moving to a plant-based diet, I make my own kimchi with a great variety of vegetables, especially during the winter when it’s hard to get pesticide free fresh greens. Farmer’s markets diminish in frequency and even those who use hoophouses don’t produce much in the way of leafy greens.
    Also, are there any valid studies about whey, which is the liquid that remains from making yogurt? Is it possible to trust a good microbiome of gut bacteria to handle small amounts of salt and dairy foods like yogurt and whey?

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