The Surprising Health Benefits of Makgeolli

The Surprising Health Benefits of Makgeolli

Makgeolli (막걸리) is a traditional Korean sparking rice wine that is not only delicious, it’s also full of nutrition, probiotics, and numerous health benefits. A bubbly effervescent taste combo reminiscent of kombucha and sake, it also contains flavor notes of both sweet and tangy, gently folded in a creamy, silky smooth, almost milky texture. 


Koreans live light years ahead of the rest of the world, so of course they have invented the perfect healthy and nutritious alcoholic drink, too. And now, the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea is making quite a popular comeback, and here’s why.


Makgeolli, made with a Korean cereal fermentation starter called nuruk, is an unfiltered, unpasteurized, fermented, vegan rice wine that continues to mature when bottled. With a low alcohol content of only 6%, makgeolli has long been considered both a health elixir and a well-being drink due to all the following magical powers it has.


  • 2% Protein
  • 10% Fiber
  • 10 amino acids
  • Vitamins C and B (often B1, B2, B3, B5, B6)
  • Improves cellular function, contains essential nutrients inositol and choline 
  • Probiotic, contains 100-500 times more lactobacillus bacteria than yogurt (learn more about all the types of probiotics)
  • Anti-oxidant, helps destroy free radicals 
  • Anti-cancer, helps kill gastric cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors
  • Anti-bacterial 
  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Anti-colic, contains a peptide that heals colitis
  • Anti-aging, increases procollagen in the skin and helps UV protection 
  • Improves the complexion, some Koreans apply it directly to the face 
  • Fat-free or low-fat (at 0.1%)
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Boosts the circulatory system 
  • Boosts the metabolism 
  • Helps digestion
  • Fights fatigue
Makgeolli face mask

If you’re lucky enough to travel to Korea and drink makgeolli, where it’s traditionally homebrewed, then it is fully alive and pairs well all traditional Korean foods. However, when exported outside of the country, commercial brands are often pasteurized for safe travel, so try to find a local brew for authentic flavor and optimum gut-boosting nutrition.

Cheers is Geonbae (건배) in Korean, which means empty glass, so bottoms up!