25 Healthy Korean Foods For Weight Loss
As a Korean American, Korean foods have been with me all my life and is a cuisine that I am thankful to have as it is not only delicious but also healthy and nutritious. There’s a large variety of Korean foods out there so I decided to write this guide about my favorite foods along with what I believe is the healthiest.
I grew up with these foods all my life and, after becoming a certified diet coach, I can take a look at the foods again while taking a look at them from a nutrition standpoint.
In this article we will go over my Top 25 favorite Korean foods and see which one of them provides the most bang for your buck when it comes to both taste and nutrition.
Let’s take a look at the foods and see the tastiest and healthiest foods that Korean food has to offer!
25. Kongguksu (Soy Bean Noodles)
Konggusku has to be one of my favorite Korean foods of all time. It’s a dish that implements a thicker soy milk as it’s soup and uses wheat noodles instead of the typical rice noodles you can find. (1)
It has a really creamy taste and is usually served unseasoned. There is usually salt for you to add in yourself which is really cool because you can customize the dish to the sodium level that suits you best.
It’s a noodle dish that is usually served cold and is amazing when served with fresh crunchy cucumbers. There’s something so special about the flavor combination between the cucumbers and savory soy milk broth.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Kongguksu dish. For every 5 grams of fat, there are 41 grams of carbs and 12 grams of protein. Not bad at all for how delicious it is.
The issue is that it can be high in carbs so, if you’re someone who wants to control how many carbs they eat, make sure to eat this dish in moderation. Carbs are totally fine to eat. It’s when we overeat the carbs where complications start to set.
Kongguksu offers 12 grams of protein per 41 grams of carbs so make sure to eat some protein rich foods such as chicken or fish throughout your day to make sure you get a better ratio of carbs and fats. You can always supplement protein as well with a high quality powder. Here are our picks for a powder that has clean ingredients and doesn’t cost an arm and leg.
Kimbap has to be one of the most popular Korean foods out there as it’s sweet and savory flavors that offer a unique take on sushi. It’s a food that’s really popular in Korean and is usually served at night markets all around Seoul.
I was first introduced to Kimbap at a very young age and I always get excited when I get to pair this dish with another popular street food called Tteokbokki. It’s a spicy Korean rice cake dish that has a sauce that’s just meant to be dipped in with some Kimbap. (2)
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Kimbap dish. There are 0 grams of fat for every 32 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein. This is not bad but can fill you up with some carbs if you aren’t aware of how many you’ve eaten.
Our tip is to eat this in moderation and pair it with one of the higher protein options you can find on this list.
23. Jeonbokjuk (Abalone Porridge)
This is a very light dish but is still packed with flavors as it is like an elevated version of most porridges you can find out there. The abalone in the porridge offers a lot of chewy textures so it’s almost as if you’re eating a seafood risotto when eating this dish. (3)
It’s a dish that my mom always made for me when I felt sick and was always comforting to have around. It has a lot of nostalgia for Koreans and Korean Americans out there so this dish definitely has to be on this list.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Jeonbokjuk dish. For every 6 grams of fat, there are 25 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein. Not bad at all and is pretty balanced.
The only thing it lacks is some protein so make sure you add some fish or chicken with this dish.
22. Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)
You can find Japchae at any Korean restaurant as it usually serves as a free appetizer that you get with your meal. It’s an interesting dish as it’s the only glass noodle dish that really has a lot of flavor when you eat it. (4)
What’s great about Japchae is the savory flavors it gets from the sesame oil and various vegetables that you get with this dish. You can expect your Japchae to have mushrooms, carrots, onions, and spinach. It’s a delicious dish and really enhances the main course very well.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Japchae dish. For every 7 grams of fat, there are 29 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein. Pretty standard for a noodle dish and, just like the others, this lacks protein.
Make sure to focus on your meats and veggies when eating Japchae. It has a lot of carbs per serving so some protein could be great to balance out the ratios.
21. Bibimbap (Mixed Veggies With Rice)
Bibimbap is definitely a dish that you see many Koreans eating throughout their week. It’s a dish that most Koreans eat on their weeknights and is like our go to meal that we eat occasionally. This dish is especially good when you add Korean sweet and spicy chili paste into the mix. (5)
It has a really awesome sweet, savory, and spicy flavor that pairs so well with the pickled veggies and rice. It’s a dish that should be eaten more if you need more fibers into your diet as you’ll be getting a ton per serving.
You can try out our recipe if you’re looking for a healthier version of this meal!
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside of your typical Bibimbap dish. For every 0 grams of fat, there are 27 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein. This is great as there is really no fat in a typical Bibimbap. All it needs is some good meat and this dish will be good to go.
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20. Bean Sprout Soup
Bean Sprout Soup is a dish you can find in every Korean gathering as it is such a popular soup amongst Korean people. There’s something about the simplicity of this dish that is so appealing which is interesting because it’s flavor mainly comes from bean sprouts and soy sauce. (6)
It acts really as a side dish that is paired with rice and galbi (Korean short ribs). There’s a special taste you get from the combination of the three which is why I think Bean Sprout Soup is so popular amongst Koreans.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Bean Sprout Soup. For every 0.5 grams of fat, there are 2 grams of carbs and 1 gram of protein. You only really get 15 calories per serving as this can’t really act as a meal on its own.
Our tip here is to pair this food with some lean meats and to get some carbs like rice into the mix as well.
19. Beef Soup With Vegetables
If there’s something that Koreans do best, it’s their stews and soups. Korean Beef Soup is one of the best things you can eat on a winter night or if you’re someone that just loves the flavor of rice and soup. (7)
It has big chunks of oxtail or short rib in there and it has an amazing savory and spicy flavor to it. There’s nothing really like the flavor combination of eating this dish with a bowl of rice, some galbi, and some kimchi on the side. If you go to a Korean restaurant, I highly recommend you try out some Beef Soup with some rice.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Beef Soup dish. For every 5 grams of fat, there are 9 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein. This is a pretty balanced set of macros so it’s totally fine to eat this as its own meal.
18. HanJeongsik (Full Course Meal)
This is a dish that you have to try in Korea as it is very traditional and is hard to find out here in Socal. I had my first HanJeongsik experience when I went to Korean for my high school graduation trip. (8)
At first I was a little disappointed as so many of the dishes had a ton of veggies which isn’t bad but my parents just hyped it up for me as one of the most amazing things they’ve ever tried in their lives.
After having a couple bites, however, I was amazed at the layers of flavor you get when adding certain dishes together and creating new flavor combinations from the 20-50 dishes you can find on the table. It was truly the first time where I didn’t need too much meat in my meal. I totally recommend you find a HanJeongsik restaurant the next time you venture out to Korea.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical HanJeongsik meal. For every 4.5 grams of fat, there are 19 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein. Not bad but this is for one serving of food.
When you go to a HanJeongsik restaurant you’ll most likely get 3-4 servings of this food so watch out for the carbs on this meal, they can sneak up on you.
17. Tteokgalbi (Korean Hamburger)
Tteokgalbi is one of those Korean dishes that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It’s really hard to find a restaurant out there that even serves this dish so you’ll have to make it at home if you want to try this out. (9)
It’s essentially the same flavor that you might get from a typical bulgogi dish but it is formed into a patty as it uses ground beef rather than sirloin or ribeye. Korean chefs make meat really well and, when paired with something as delicious as the many stews available in Korean cuisine, this dish in particular shines.
Let’s take a look at its nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Tteokgalbi dish. For every 15 grams of fat, there are 2 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein. This is pretty good for eating a meal with carbs because it leaves a lot of room for it.
Tteokgalbi is best when served with rice and a Korean stew. It’s a great flavor combination and it’s definitely fine to eat as there’s essentially no carbs in there and high protein. There is a bit of fat, however, so just be sure that your fats are low for the day.
16. Kalguksu (Knife Cut Noodles)
This is a dish that is finally getting recognized throughout the world and is now competing with some of the famous Xi’an style noodles you can find throughout the media. I was recently watching a Netflix show called “Street Foods” where they featured a Korean Chef who made these noodles to support her family. (10)
It was beautiful to see how she handled and created the noodles by hand and intriguing to see her noodles get the popularity it deserves. I highly recommend you watch that show if you want to know more about the delicious flavors that Kalguksu has to offer.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts of a typical Kalguksu dish. For every 2.5 grams of fat, there are 19 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein. For a noodle dish, this is pretty amazing as the fats are low and the protein is high.
There are only 19 grams of carbs per serving which makes this meal very affordable in terms of calories and macros. Our tip here is to make sure you have some higher protein meals throughout the day. You can really benefit from more protein here.
15. SoonDaeGuk (Blood Sausage Soup)
Blood Sausage can turn some people off but I assure you this dish is delicious and is something you should at least give a try. Korean Blood sausage doesn’t really taste too much of blood and is more reminiscent of a sausage filled with rice and glass noodles. (11)
There’s a really subtle flavor to SoonDae alone; however, when it is made into a soup, the flavors really shine. This dish is very hearty and you get so many flavors and textures coming from it. You’ll be surprised at how delicious Soondaeguk can be, just give it a try!
Let’s take a look at a typical SoonDaeGuk dish and see what the nutrition facts are. For every 3.5 grams of fat, there are 11 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein. It’s a pretty balanced meal for how hearty and heavy this dish feels. It’s low fat, moderate carbs, and moderate protein.
This leaves room for a lot of other foods so don’t be afraid to eat a little more of the other dishes you can find this sitting next to.
14. Beef Seaweed Soup
Miyuk Gook or Seaweed soup is traditionall enjoyed on birthdays and is a very tradition Korean dish. It’s a simple dish that has a ton of flavor which comes from seaweed and sesame oil. It’s amazing what this combination of food creates and it gets even better when you add a protein into the mix.
Beef Seaweed Soup is Korea’s soul food and is eaten very often in many Korean households. Give it a shot the next time you’re at a Korean restaurant or try to make it at home, it’s super easy! (12)
Let’s take a look at what goes inside a typical Beef Seaweed Soup and take a look at the nutrition facts. For every 3.5 grams of fat, you get 8 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein. This is great as the fats are low and the protein and carbs are at a 1:1 ratio.
You can eat a lot of this and stay within your fitness goals. Just make sure you add a little more protein and fibers for your other meals.
13. Bookeo Guk (Dried Pollack Soup)
If you’re a fan of light soups and fish then this is definitely the dish for you. This is a really light dish and is usually paired with some rice and some meat. It has little chunks of Pollack in there which makes for a really interesting flavor and texture combination as the soup is savory and seafoody.
You can honestly just eat this with a bowl of rice to get a complete meal as there is hardly any carb in this meal and it is packed with protein. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Bookeo Guk dish. (13)
For every 2 grams of fat, there is 1 gram of carb and 5 grams of protein. This is a great dish to eat when you are dieting as it hardly has any fat and carbs. It’s really just a bowl of protein that has a deep flavor coming from the sesame oil and the many veggies you can find in there.
There’s not much to say about Bulgogi as it is such a popular meat dish all around the world. Koreans really know how to marinade and cook their beef so it’s not a surprise that it’s become a popular food in the media and food networks. (14)
I’ve grown up eating Bulgogi and definitely eat it very occasionally as it fits very well into my diet. My favorite thing to eat Bulgogi with is a lettuce wrap where you put spicy chili paste, garlic, and kimchi and then eat it whole.
You gotta try it out if you haven’t already. Let’s take a look at a typical Bulgogi dish and see how many calories go into it. For every 8 grams of fat, there are 5 grams of carbs and 16 grams of protein. It’s a great meal when you’re working out and building muscle as the protein is high and the fats are moderate.
Our tip here is to not eat this all the time and mix up your protein sources from leaner cuts of meat or from fish or chicken. The fats can add up over time so make sure you focus on leaner meats.
11. Galbi Tang
Galbi Tang is my favorite Korean stew out of all of them. It’s spicy, hearty, and has a ton of short rib pieces ready to get munched on. What really stands out to me about this dish is it’s combination with rice and veggies. (15)
It’s really just begging for some starchy carbs to elevate the flavor and, when there are carbs available, this dish really shines. It’s a dish where you can eat carbs since there are hardly any in the Galbi Tang itself.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes into a typical Galbi Tang dish. For every 8 grams of fat, there are 3 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of protein. There are only 3 grams of carbs in this dish so pairing it with rice is a great way to get a full meal in.
10. Galchi Jorim (Spicy Fish Soup)
Here’s another dish on the menu that is packed with protein and has a ton of spicy and savory flavors. My mom makes this dish especially well and, due it’s low carb and high protein counts, It’s become a staple dish that she makes for me when I’ve had a long day at work. (16)
This is a great example of Korean food being healthy and great for a fitness diet. It’s taking a dish as boring as fish and elevating it with tons of spices and herbs that you can’t get from anywhere else.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Galchi Jorim dish. For every 4 grams of fat, there are 4 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. It’s really rare to find a dish that has more protein than it does grams of fat and carbs. Our tip is to find more foods like this and to implement them into your diet more regularly.
9. Gamja Tang (Korean Potato Soup)
Gamja Tang is another Korean soul food dish as it’s a dish that many homey feeling restaurants feature as one of their main dishes. There’s a spot in LA that me and my friends go to on 6th street and we always make sure to get a bowl of Gamja Tang everytime we visit. (17)
Although it’s called “Potato Soup” in Korean, you really get more pork ribs than you do potatoes which makes for a decadent and hearty meal. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what the calories are.
For every 3 grams of fat, there are 5 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein. This is another example of a food that has more protein than it does carbs and fat. This is totally fine to eat on its own and a little rice won’t hurt you for this dish either.
8. Geram Jim (Egg Stew)
You’ve probably seen this dish or have ordered it if you’ve been out to Korean BBQ recently. It’s a dish that is super simple as it is just steamed eggs that have been whipped to form a really airy consistency. (18)
It’s seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and salt but it feels like it has so much more to it than that. Each bite is sugar eggy and fluffy which goes so well with meat dishes and a bowl of rice. It’s great to eat when dieting as it is essentially the same macros as two eggs. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Geram Jim dish.
For every 10 grams of fat, there are 2 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein. It’s really just two eggs that have been fluffed up, steamed, and mixed in with a lot of deliciousness. You can have this with a bowl of rice or some meats and you’ll still be good to go.
7. Gyeranmari (Korean Omelette Rolls)
This dish is similar to the Japanese Tamago egg dish you can find at many night markets but it differs in the sense that it has no Mirin in it. Mirin offers a sweet taste that pairs well with savory which is what you really get from all Japanese foods. I have so much to say about Japanese foods but I’ll save that for another time. (19)
Gyeranmari is just savory and is usually dipped in a chili sauce that offers some spicy flavor to it. It’s a great way to get your eggs in and is actually really delicious when paired with rice. Make sure to try it out the next time you’re out getting Korean food or just make it in the safety of your own home.
Let’s take a look at what goes inside a typical Gyeranmari dish. For every 9 grams of fat, there are 3 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein. It’s pretty standard for what you can get from an egg dish so it’s no surprise here.
If you want a more exciting and elevated version of your typical egg, then make sure to try this recipe out.
6. JjimDak (Korean Spicy Chicken)
Korean fried chicken gets a lot of popularity but JjimDak or, Korean Spicy Chicken, doesn’t really get the spotlight too often. It’s a more traditional food than Korean fried chicken as there’s no breading and it is usually either boiled or grilled. (20)
There’s a ton of flavor you can get from this dish and, the best part is, it offers great nutrition and can be put into any healthy diet. It’s a great way of elevating your chicken if you want to stray away from the typical lemon chicken or salt and pepper style chicken.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical JjimDak dish. For every 9 grams of fat, there are 16 grams of carbs and 14 grams of fat. Pretty good macros for a chicken dish so you can just eat it as it is without anything to supplement it.
5. Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup)
Yukgaejang is another spicy Korean soup that features big chunks of rendered meat that is super soft after hours of slow cooking. It’s a dish that really features Korean meat and stews really well and is a dish that all Koreans love to eat. (21)
It’s packed with protein and has hardly any carbs so it’s great for all of those keto dieters out there looking for some Korean food. If you can eat carbs, I recommend you eat this with a bowl of rice and experience the amazing combination you get with the two.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside of your typical Yukgaejang meal. For every 4 grams of fat, there are 5 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein. It’s a balanced dish and protein is its highest macronutrient. Make sure to eat your veggies with this meal and go moderate on the rice.
4. Soondoobu (Spicy Tofu Soup)
Soondoobu is probably the second most popular dish behind the almighty Korean BBQ. It’s essentially a stew that has a ton of ingredients which makes it very complex and very delicious. When you think of Korean soul food, this has to take the prize as it’s really what Koreans rely on when they have a hard time in life. (22)
It’s warm and comforting and the pieces of tofu really soak up that broth and add some amazing textures to the dish. A lot of Soondubu dishes have seafood inside which adds an extra layer of flavor to the already heart dish.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Soondoobu dish. For every 6 grams of fat, there are 2 grams of carbs and 6 grams of protein. It’s pretty amazing as there are hardly any carbs in the dish so there’s a room for a bowl of rice with your meal.
3. SamGyeTang (Whole Chicken Soup)
I’ve already written an article that features this food but I have to mention it again due to its amazing flavors and nutritional value. This is that dish that you see at the Korean restaurant and are unsure to order it as it can be a little balsy to eat a whole chicken. (23)
I assure you that it is a delicious choice and you can benefit greatly from eating such a nutritious soup. It’s a really simple dish and carries a lot of light flavors with subtle savory ones as well. It’s great to be eaten with rice since there are no carbs in the soup really.
Let’s take a look at the macronutrients and see what goes inside a typical SamGyeTang dish. For every 3 grams of fat, there are 4 grams of carbs and 11 grams of protein. This is probably the highest protein count on this list. It’s a delicious stew and is great to be eaten when trying to stay fit and lean.
2. Jokbal (Pork Hocks)
Jokbal sounds disgusting but it’s actually quite delicious. Koreans like to slice up the Hocks into thin pieces and dip them in a super savory sauce made out of fermented shrimp paste. It’s a chewy piece of meat and there’s a lot of melty fat on there that makes this a great option if you want to venture out to new foods. (24)
There’s a ton of protein in Jokbal and is a relatively leaner cut of pork. It’s great to be eaten with rice as the sauce provided can be saltier than expected. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside a typical Jokbal dish.
For every 12 grams of fat, there are 4 grams of carbs and 17 grams of protein. There’s a ton of protein per serving so you can really get a lot out of this meal. There are a lot of fats so make sure your other meals focus on leaner cuts of meat such as fish or chicken. This dish is best served with rice and lettuce wraps so don’t be afraid to add some to your meal.
1. HoeDeopBap (Korean Sashimi Rice Bowl)
This has to be my all time favorite Healthy Korean dish as it is everything that you’ll ever need to get a great meal and nutritional value. It’s essentially a poke bowl except the marinade is just a Korean chili paste mixture. (25)
It’s a new way to get your sashimi in and is unlike any other sashimi bowl you can get due to the sweet and spicy sauce that it's mixed into. There’s usually a mixture of salmon, tuna, and albacore in there with some pieces of squid or octopus.
All of these pieces are super lean and add so much protein to your diet. It’s an amazing dish and should be eaten frequently throughout your diet.
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts and see what goes inside of a typical HoeDeopBap dish. For every 2.5 grams of fat, there are 13 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein. This dish has a ton of protein per serving and a fraction of the fats you get from other high protein dishes.
It’s very customizable so you can take out some of the rice if the carbs are a little too high for you. Overall it’s the perfect dish to stay in shape and is delicious beyond belief.
There It Is!
25 Healthy Korean foods that will keep you in shape and provide you with a delicious meal. If you want to learn more about Asian foods and healthy tips, then make sure to check out our other blogs where we go over healthy habits and awesome foods.
Phillip Pak is a fitness expert who has been training clients for 5 years. Throughout his fitness journey, Phill has done it all when it comes to diet and nutrition. He is now the owner of Aspire Fitness Walnut where his main goal is to help those who are seeking to find the best version of themselves. He’s been through the struggle of obtaining an good physique and knows how to share it with others.