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10 Healthy Ingredients to Incorporate Into Your 2021 Diet

10 Healthy Ingredients to Incorporate Into Your 2021 Diet

Our bodies are really the only place that we have to live in, so it’s natural that we’d want to take care of our home. Most people go into the new year with this goal in mind. However, these goals are always easier said than done. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of slowly (or quickly) losing that strong motivation and huzzah that we had at the beginning of the year. In order to help you adopt healthier habits, we’ve compiled a list of 10 healthy Korean ingredients that are an easy and delicious addition to your routine! Full of flavors and nutrients, you’ll actually want to incorporate these tastes and flavors into your diet.

1. Gochujang


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Gochujang is a hot pepper paste that is a staple condiment in Korean cuisine. Known for its sweet, savory, tangy and spicy flavors, it’s a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of recipes. However, it’s not only tasty, but also incredibly healthy! Due to its ingredients and spice, gochujang is known for increasing metabolism, burning fat, and suppressing appetite. Eating and burning fat at the same time??? Count me in!

Additional health benefits of gochujang include its probiotics and enzymes (due to the fermentation process) which promotes a healthy gut. There are even studies showing that gochujang not only decreases stress levels but also keeps your heart healthy. You can look here for more information about the main ingredient of our KPOP Foods sauce and here for our classic gochujang sauce!

2. Korean Plum Extract (Maesil)


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Maesil is a Korean green plum syrup or extract that is another staple ingredient in Korean foods and has been implemented in traditional Korean medicine for hundreds of years. Green plums are pretty sour because of its strong citric acid (which rids our bodies of lactic acid), but when made into a sweet extract, it’s fragrant and incredibly tasty.


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Like gochujang and other fermented foods, maesil contains good bacterias and digestive enzymes that promote a healthy bowel. We recommend that you try this all-purpose maesil on Amazon. Try stirring a little of this extract into some hot water and drink it as a tea after your meals! 

3. Green Tea


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You’ve probably heard about this popular and health-conscious beverage and recently seen it in all types of skin care as well. That’s because green tea has tons of benefits, and I mean tons! From improving brain function to burning fat to protecting against cancer and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, it’s truly an all-rounder!


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Try swapping out your coffee or soda for green tea to improve brain function and maintain a stabler energy. Because it’s rich in antioxidants (especially catechins), it’ll clean out the toxins in your body while boosting your metabolic rate. Green tea is also known for its relaxing effect due to its natural chemical, theanine. Maximize these health benefits and try this Mt. Jiri green tea here

4. Kimchi & Other Fermented Foods


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If you haven’t already noticed the trend in most of these healthy Korean ingredients, it’s fermentation! It’s the not-so-secret method of preserving foods while drawing out beneficial probiotics, which serves for a better digestive system and stronger immune system. Due to its conversion of carbs into acids, fermented foods like kimchi are known for their almost sour tartness and sharp flavor. Foods like kimchi are perfect for these Covid times in building up your immunity and restoring your gut. Kimchi is also low in calories but high in nutrients like vitamins A, C, K, B6, iron, and a variety of minerals and amino acids.  Did you know that there are different types of kimchi? Here's an article of 6 delicious kimchis that you have to try at least once!

5. Seaweed


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Seaweed, a superfood in Korean cuisine, is prepared in a number of ways ranging from roasted seaweed snacks to a boiled seaweed side dish. It’s used as a garnish, salad, and wrap for a variety of recipes. It’s not only versatile but incredibly healthy as well! Depending on the type of seaweed, it can contain beneficial vitamins and minerals like iron, vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, and zinc, calcium, and magnesium (to name a few). It also contains protective antioxidants that reduce damage to your cells and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Because of its fibers, it boosts your gut health while also delaying hunger too. 



If you’d like to reap the benefits of both kimchi and seaweed, our KPOP Foods team has created a tasty kimchi-flavored seaweed snack here!

6. Sesame Oil


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Toasted sesame oil is a nutty and aromatic ingredient perfect for sauces, dressings. and marinades. Traditionally, sesame oil has been used not only for its taste but also as medicine. This is due to its nutritional qualities, its high concentration of antioxidants, and strong anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce cell damage and build up your immune system. It’s especially rich in unsaturated fatty acids (particularly omega-6), which is good for your heart and essential to your diet. Add this healthy and tasty oil to your diet!

7. Soybean Paste


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Doenjang, or fermented soybean paste, is a slightly sour and sweet paste with a strong and savory umami flavor. The soybeans serve as a protein source, which helps with digestion. Containing ample amounts of Vitamins A and C, isoflavones, and antioxidants, doenjang is known to lower blood pressure and is used as an anti-aging ingredient. However, the most beneficial aspect is its purported prevention of cancer, which even the Korean Cancer Association lists and recommends. You can find doenjang here. We recommend you try it in a stew (recipe here) with lots of vegetables and tofu!  

8. Yuja


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Yuja (also known as yuzu) is a citrus fruit that is more sour and fragrant than other citruses. From its juice to its peels and even its seeds, East Asians use yuja for vinegars, seasonings, sauces, and marmalades. It’s especially used as a tea in the colder months to prevent and treat coughs, sore throats, fatigue, and common colds. Yuja is also low in calories and highly nutritious, containing fibers, Vitamins A, B5, B6, C, Thiamine, copper, carotenoids, flavonoids, limonoids, and antioxidants. The combination of these ingredients reduces inflammation, fights cancer cells, and aids heart health. You can also use it as an essential oil for its calming effects!  Buy this multipurpose Yuja tea and marmalade here

9. Hongcho


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You’ve probably heard of the health benefits of diluting apple cider vinegar and drinking it. Well, Koreans often drink something similar: hongcho, a combination of fruit concentrate and vinegar to produce a fruity and tangy versatile drink.


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With naturally fermented vinegar and fruit, hongcho boosts your immunity while fighting fatigue, aging, stress, and body weight. Hongcho comes in a variety of flavors such as pomegranate (a favorite), apple, lemon, blackberry, blueberry, banana, orange, peach , grapefruit, apricot, and more. It’s a tasty addition to water, soda water, milk, makgeolli (rice wine), and even beer! You can buy this refreshing and healthy drink on Amazon.

10. Ginseng


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Last but not least, we recommend you try Korean ginseng root (Panax ginseng), which has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Panax ginseng (which literally translates to “all-healing man root”)  is characterized by its slightly sweet but bitter aftertaste, and is primarily used to treat overall wellbeing, weakness, and fatigue.


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Similar to the other ingredients on our list, Korean ginseng prevents inflammation, boosts immune systems, and may help fight mental ailments like stress, anxiety, and depression. Most notably, ginseng is used for erectile dysfunction and sexual performance, but more commonly consumed when stressed or tired. You can actually try looking for Korean red ginseng at your local Costco now or buy it online. We recommend you try the Korean red ginseng pouch drink first since ginseng is known to be an acquired taste! 

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