Cheonggukjang: Korean Superfood

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Cheonggukjang (CGJ) (청국장) is a fermented soybean paste used in Korean cuisine. It contains whole as well as ground soybeans.  Traditionally prepared Cheonggukjang was manufactured at Midari Farm (Yeongwol county, Kangwon-Do, Korea). Cooked soybeans were fermented with Bacillus subtilis at 30°C for 43 h and then freeze-dried and powered for adding into the diet.

Cheonggukjang contains abundant levels of Vitamin K2 in the MK-7 form, similar to Japanese natto.  When cheonggukjang is fermented by using Bacillus amyloliquefaciens KCTC11712BP, the content of menaquinone (MK) can reach as high as 12.47 μg/g, which was about 4-fold higher than that of commercial cheonggukjang and natto products.  1

The Table below lists the recognized and researched studies on the use and consumption of Cheonggukjang and its respective health benefits:

Health Benefits of Cheonggukjang

ConditionBenefitReference
Diabetes (Insulin resistance)8 week consumption of the fermented soybean food, chungkookjang (20% of the diet), increases β-cell function and mass and attenuates insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic ratsA
Chungkookjang fermented with B. lichemiformis retains the anti-diabetic properties of the most efficacious traditional chungkookjang and it may be even more effective for improving insulin function than traditionally prepared chungkookjangB
Long-term consumption of fermented soybean-derived Chungkookjang attenuates hepatic insulin resistance in 90% pancreatectomized diabetic ratsC
AntioxidantChungkookjang has a much stronger antioxidant activity than unfermented steamed soybeans, probably due to its increased aglycone isoflavone and malonylglycoside isoflavone which resulted from fermentation as well as total polyphenol contentsD
Cognitive function (Beta-Amyloid)Standardized chungkookjang, short-term fermented soybeans with Bacillus lichemiformis, improves cognitive function and insulin resistance in β-amyloid-infused diabetic rats E
Hyperlipidemia (lipid-lowering effects)Study investigated the lipid-lowering effects of fermented soybean-derived chungkookjang (CKJ) in hyperlipidemic Bio F1B hamstersF
Antimutagenic (Chemoprotective)Antimutagenic effects of chungkookjang prepared with the different fermentation periods and ingredient ratio were studied against aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) using Ames test and N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG) using SOS chromotestG
Anticancer activity Chungkookjang showed a strong inhibitory effect on cancer cell growth in vitro, as well as a more preventive effect against chemically induced mammary tumorigenesis in vivo. These results suggest that Chungkookjang acquire its anticancer activity through the fermentation process.
H
Anti-obesitySaponin compounds in cheonggukjang, a traditional Korean fermented soy food, were quantitatively evaluated, and their antiobesity effect was studied. Two saponin groups, i.e., soyasapogenol A and B, were isolated from cheonggukjang. AMPK activation was stimulated more by soyasapogenol B than by soyasapogenol A. Therefore, cheonggukjang saponin may be a potential antiobesity agent.I
NeuroprotectiveResults demonstrate that cheonggukjang fermented by mixed culture of B. subtilis and L. sakei could exert a wide range of beneficial activities for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer, Parkinson, and Huntington disease.J
Serum lipid profiles and fatty acid oxidationCheonggukjang supplement leads to increased mRNA expressions of enzymes and protein involved in fatty acid oxidation in liver, reduced accumulation of body fat and improvement of serum lipids in high fat diet fed mice.K
OsteoporosisResults suggest that administration of CGJ containing abundant levels of MK-7 may be a promising approach for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.L
ImmunityCheonggukjang (PSCJ) have immunostimulatory activities in RAW 264.7 macrophages and primary cultured splenocytes. These results suggest that the cheonggukjang could be utilized as an effective immunostimulatory agent.M
Growth hormone measurementsResults indicate that cheonggukjang extract may increase the thickness of the epiphyseal growth plate and the compact bone of the femur, elevate GH secretion, and stimulate regulation of the GH receptor downstream signaling pathway in the liver and muscle tissues of SD rats. N
AsthmaFindings demonstrated that cheonggukjang can be used as an antiasthmatic dietary supplements candidate for histamine-mediated asthma.O
Anti-inflammatoryKorean traditional soybean fermented products, especially CGJ, suppress the generation of reactive species, NF-κB activity, and NF-κB-related inflammatory genes.P


Resources:

Cheonggukjang can be purchased at Asian markets and/or Korean markets


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