Healthy Korean Food Choices

Korean stew with shrimp on spoon

Koji Hanabuchi / Getty Images

Are you a dieter who loves Korean food? If so, then you've probably wondered if Korean food is good for your weight loss program. The fact is that it is possible to find healthy Korean food but there are definitely dishes to avoid.

Use this guide to keep your diet on track when you dine at your favorite Korean restaurant.

Is Korean Food Healthy?

Healthy Korean food choices may not be as easy to find as other cuisines, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to stay on your diet at Korean restaurants. In fact, Korean food can be more healthy than other styles of Asian cuisine. 

Korean food uses less oil than many Chinese dishes so you'll often consume less fat if you choose Korean cuisine.

Korean restaurants often serve the traditional foods family style, which means you can eat small amounts of different foods without overdoing your portions. That said, family-style eating can be problematic if you're not careful. It is easy to mindlessly overeat when large bowls and plates of food are in front of you.

If you dine family-style at your favorite Korean restaurant, choose foods wisely, fill your plate once taking a single serving of each food and consume your food slowly so that you can recognize the signs of fullness.

Lastly, check the menu online before you visit your favorite restaurant. Many locations have websites that allow you to peruse different options in advance. It might be easier to make a healthy choice when you are not hungry than it is when you are seated at your restaurant table and ready to eat.

Healthy Korean Food Choices

So what's the best thing to eat if you're looking for healthy Korean food? If you're new to Korean cuisine, try kimchi. This popular Korean dish is spicy, pickled cabbage often combined with fish and it is good for people who are trying to lose weight.

Kimchi (sometimes spelled kimchee) is a fermented food and fermented foods are filled with probiotics to help you maintain optimal health. Kimchee is also low in fat and calories so you can fill up on the traditional dish without packing on the pounds.

The only downside is that kimchee is usually high in sodium. If you're watching your salt intake, you might want to avoid this dish. But it has a unique and tasty flavor that many dieters enjoy.

Here are a few more diet-friendly food choices for your next visit to a Korean restaurant.

  • Bulgogi (barbecued beef)
  • Mandoo guk (beef stew)
  • Galbi tang (beef rib stew)
  • Panchan or banchan (assorted, small dishes of food with rice)
  • Spring rolls with vegetables as long as they're not fried

Korean Food Items to Avoid If You're on a Diet

One drawback of Korean cuisine is that there are few fresh vegetables available, so you can't fill up on them at a Korean restaurant to curb your appetite.

Before you dine out on the traditional fare, you may want to eat a small, ​fiber-rich snack to curb your hunger and prevent overeating when you dine out.

There are a few entrees you should look out for. One very popular Korean dish is called bibimbap. This traditional dish is a type of casserole that combines meat and rice.

Bibimbap is full of flavor, but unfortunately, casseroles aren't a diet-friendly option in most any cuisine. You'll have a hard time determining the nutritional value of the mixed dish, which means it won't be your top choice if you're seriously cutting calories.

Another popular dish is called chap chae. This dish can also be called Japchae or chop chae. The mixture is somewhat similar to Chinese lo mein, made up primarily of stir-fried noodles.

Chap chae can be enjoyed on a diet if you eat it in moderation. You'll need to ask your server for very little oil to be used in its preparation, which can save you considerable fat and calories.

Tips for Making Healthy Korean Food at Home

The best way to enjoy healthy Korean food is to make your own dishes at home. When you cook at home, you control the ingredients and the cooking techniques so you can use less fat in the preparation of the meal. You can also increase the number of veggies you use and decrease the amount of meat and high-calorie sauces.

Was this page helpful?