Korean Kimchi - Detail - © Karen Jung via scmp.com

COVID-19: Can Fermented Foods Lower Death Risk?

Submitted for your consideration: A new, unpublished study suggests eating Fermented Veggies could reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19. Could this explain why COVID mortality rates in some countries has remained markedly lower than those in others?

Korean Kimchi - © Karen Jung via scmp.comMaybe not the most appetizing looking dish to some, new science suggests that
regular consumption of Fermented Vegetables such as Korean Kimchi
may offer important benefits in the battle against COVID-19…


Today’s post focuses on an as-yet-unpublished learned study based on analysis of statistics on COVID-19 infections and deaths. It appears to be a serious study, and makes some plausible conclusions about potential benefits from consuming compounds commonly found in fermented Vegetables. It remains to be seen whether the study will pass the peer review process and succeed in being published in a legitimate medical or scientific journal. But we thought we’d pass it on to you for your information anyway.

What they did

According to an abstract of the study, researchers said: “Many foods have an antioxidant activity, and nutrition may mitigate COVID-19. Some of the countries with a low COVID-19 mortality are those with a relatively high consumption of traditional fermented foods. To test the potential role of fermented foods in COVID-19 mortality in Europe, we performed an ecological study.”

Sources of information for the data-mining analysis included The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database (for information on consumption of Fermented Vegetables, Pickled/Marinated Vegetables, Fermented Milk, Yoghurt and Fermented Sour Milk), and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (for COVID-19 mortality per number of inhabitants [numbers]).

What they found

Even after controlling the analysis for hat the researchers call statistical ‘confounders’, the mortality risk for COVID-19 decreased by 35.4 percent for each g/day increase in the average national consumption of Fermented Vegetables. Results for other classes of fermented and pickled foods studied failed to reached statistical significance with the COVID-19 death rate per country.

The takeaway

Researchers say they found what they expected to find, vis à vis fermented Vegetables. That is, countries in which Fermented Veggies figure prominently in the national diet, COVID-19 death rates were significantly lower than in similar/neighbouring countries where Fermented Veggies were not generally consumed.

However, they caution that further study is needed on why and how Fermented Veggies achieve this effect.

On the face of it, the study suggests that folks who regularly consume foods such as Saurkraut and Kimchi (see picture, top of page) which have high anti-oxidant content offer an important edge for those who eat them over folks with similar demographic and dietary profiles in reducing the risk of dying from COVID-19.

My take

Strictly observational evidence has shown that countries such as Korea, where KimChi (a Fermented Cabbage condiment eaten by literally everyone there) is the national dish, have escaped the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. To me, that alone is enough to recommend further study of that culture’s dietary conventions.

If these researchers and others do pursue further search on Fermented Veggies, I’d like to know how consumption of such foods might effect the risk of contracting the coronavirus in the first place, and/or effect the seriousness of symptoms, and the post-infection impact of COVID-19 on sufferers.

Of course, I’d also like to see if researchers can identify and isolate the ‘active ingredients’ of Fermented Foods to produce COVID-19 treatments.

Meanwhile… I’ve already honoured KimChi with a detailed recipe in this ‘legacy’ post. Maybe I should cook up some more items on making your own Fermented Veggies!

~ Maggie J.