Is Korean food healthier for you than western food?
- AndrewLv 75 months ago
What would you consider to be "Western food"? The cuisine of Finland is nothing like the cuisine of Portugal. The cuisine of Greece is nothing like that of Scotland. Without rigid parameters for what constitutes "Western food" no one can answer the question; however, most foreigners who haven't spent a great deal of time in Korea have a very poor understanding of Korean food. I myself have been living and working in Korea for many, many years, and I happen to be deeply familiar with the food. Allow me to enlighten you...
Firstly, you must understand that Koreans would eat rhinoceros dung out of an old tyre if you were to tell them one of two things: A) "it's good for your health", or B) "it's a traditional Korean food." Use either line and they'll tuck into anything you place in front of them with great avidity.
Secondly, even foreigners who think they know a whole lot about Korean food are not aware of the specifics of the Korean diet. On the surface foods like kim-chi and dishes like bibimbap might seem healthy, but in large doses they are most certainly not.
There's a reason why the great cuisines of the world get so much love and respect and attention globally. Chinese food, French food, Indian food, Italian food, Malaysian food, Mexican food, Thai food, Turkish food, we're talking about cuisines that blend an incredible amount of flavours together within a single meal, cuisines where there's an incredible amount of variety to be found amongst all the dishes. That's not the case with Korean food. At all.
Let me sum up Korean cuisine for you: It's pickled or slathered in red pepper paste (or sprinkled with red pepper flakes), or marinated with soy sauce. That's the range of flavours we're talking about. Name practically any Korean dish and it will fall into one of those categories. How boring is that?
Now let's take a look at the diet of your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill Korean person... Most Koreans eat a serving of rice with every meal. That's three bowls a day, at the minimum. Day in and day out. And we're not talking about different kinds of rice, we're talking about plain white rice, or possibly purple rice. No long grain, no wild rice, no basmati, nothing else besides short-grain plain old white rice. Ugh. So what do they eat alongside it?
Well, that would of course depend on a host of factors such as that person's age, economic station, lifestyle and personal preferences, but generally, that person would probably... either skip breakfast altogether or eat something extremely unhealthy such as samgak kimbap or a sandwich from a convenience store. People who actually DO eat breakfast will likely eat rice and probably whatever leftovers or side dishes (banchan) they might have handy, so they might have some cold fish, some soup, some pickled vegetables, etc., rarely meat, but they might do once in a while.
For lunch, most Koreans go in for things that are quick and easy. A bowl of soup, rice and side dishes... Younger people tend to go in for cheaper options such as fast food, sandwiches, pizza, and of course delivery options like fried chicken and other fatty, greasy things, again, almost always with rice.
Dinner tends to be the big meal, and that's when the most meat is consumed - usually in the form of "samgyeopsal" which is essentially just fatty pork, a thick cut bacon-like type of pork that's anything but healthy. And it's also heavily salted and roasted on either a charcoal grill or over a natural gas burner. Of course there will be more rice, probably a soup, and plenty of pickled vegetable side dishes. If there's no samgyeopsal, Koreans might go in for something like bulgogi - thin strips of beef or pork marinated in soy sauce, sugar and other ingredients. Or dalk-galbi - chicken marinated in red pepper paste. Or pig's feet. Or mak-chang/gop-chang (pig or cow intestine.) None of these things are especially healthy.
Koreans don't need to eat the way their ancestors did several hundred years ago, but they refuse to embrace change. Korea is cursed with terrible geography. It's in a horrible neighbourhood wedged between China and Japan. It's easily got the worst climate on the planet - long, cold, dry winters and long, humid, hot summers... barely any spring or fall to speak of. So the growing season is short. That means that only things that grow in the ground tend to do well in Korean soil, yet the quality of the onions, the garlic, the potatoes, it's terrible when compared to what's available elsewhere. Food prices are ludicrous because the Korean government subsidizes farmers so a trolley full of groceries that might cost you $50 in New York or London or Sydney will cost you $200 in Korea. Paying $15 for half a dozen tomatoes or 500 grams of strawberries is completely normal in Korea. At those prices, it's a lot easier to just eat grilled pork belly every night.
And all that salt and fat and pickling and pepper does a number on the body. Koreans have a sky-high rate of stomach cancer.
I was raised on roast lamb, potatoes, carrots, turnips, fresh baked bread, fresh water fish, things like that. The diet in my home country is FAR, FAR healthier than the one most Koreans have. The rate of diabetes is ever increasing in Korea.
Anybody who tells you that Korean food is the best in the world is a total and complete buffoon. Even if the person is Korean, it's no excuse. One would have to be an oaf of the first order to imagine that Korean food could even begin to compare with the great cuisines of the world. I wouldn't say that it's the worst food in the world, but I will readily say that it's much closer to the bottom of the list than it is to the top.
- 5 months ago
Yes, it is. Think kimchi.
- abdulLv 75 months ago
"Western food" takes in a whole bunch of different foods that Korea doesn't have. Korea is a small country with a limited cuisine. The "west" is a huge region with many divergent cuisines, some healthier than others.
- LiliLv 75 months ago
Some is; some isn't.
On the whole, the Asian diet is healthier, but one of the reasons is that people eat much smaller portions than westerners do. Korean food includes a fair amount of beef and pork, plus starches like rice, grains, and noodles, and in large amounts, obviously those won't be so healthy.
Dog meat used to be popular but is today largely eaten for medicinal reasons, though what health benefits it could have is a good question.
- How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
- Anonymous5 months ago
Doubt it is, but it is the grossest food I have eaten.