Konjac noodles, also known as shirataki noodles or miracle noodles, are zero-calorie seemingly too-good-to-be-true alternatives to carb-heavy pasta. This article will give you all the details about konjac noodles, their health benefits, where to find them, and how to eat them (plus recipes!).
Filling, low in calories, and high in the fiber glucomannan (derived from the konjac plant), konjac noodles are long white noodles with a very low amount of digestible carbs.
Konjac noodles keto recipes are popular for this reason, because one of the main features of the keto diet is that it’s high in healthy fats and extremely low in carb consumption. For those who miss pasta on keto, these low-carb noodles are a game changer. Gluten free and vegan, these noodles are also great for those with food allergies.
Konjac plants are native to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. “Shirataki” means “white waterfall” in Japanese, which accurately describes the translucent angel hair look of these zero-carb miracle noodles.
Konjac noodles are made by mixing glucomannan fiber with water in a ratio of about 3% fiber to 97% water. You might have heard them referred to as konjac yam noodles, because konjac plants produce a yam-like tuber from which glucomannan fiber is derived. Those yam-like growths are also known as the Devil’s tongue, and it’s from this odd, edible corm that we get carb-free konjac noodles.
Beyond their low-carb value, konjac noodles offer a wealth of scientifically backed health benefits.
Konjac noodles nutrition facts are pretty sparse because they contain nothing but fiber and water, but one thing’s for certain: they’re high in glucomannan fiber. Glucomannan fiber is a soluble fiber, and as such absorbs water enough to become viscous and gel-like. This consistency provides better ease of digestion. Because glucomannan can absorb water up to 50 times its own weight, konjac noodles are extremely high in moisture, so they move more slowly through your digestive system. This helps you to feel full and delays the nutrient absorption of your food in a way that protects your blood sugar from dangerous spikes.
Glucomannan fiber also serves as a prebiotic, feeding the good gut bacteria in your intestines and supporting the optimal balance of your gut flora. When your good gut bacteria ferments this fiber, it produces short-chain fatty acids that support your immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve energy metabolism.
Glucomannan fiber has been found to burn calories as you digest it, making konjac noodles essentially calorie free thanks to their fiber content.
Konjac noodles contribute to weight loss by providing superior satiety and delaying stomach emptying. This is again due to their fiber content. Thanks to the the short-chain fatty acids produced during digestion, gut hormones signal increased feelings of fullness.
Speaking of hormones, glucomannan fiber as a supplement has been shown to reduce ghrelin levels in the body. Ghrelin is commonly known as the “hunger hormone,” so lower levels encourage a lower calorie intake and greater weight loss.
A review of studies published in 2005 found that those taking glucomannan for 1-2 months lost between 3-5.5 pounds. Another study from the same year showed that supplementing with glucomannan led to significant weight loss in comparison to the placebo group. And a study as far back as 1984 showed that even without dietary or exercise changes, obese participants lost 5.5 pounds over 8 weeks. While the supplements studied were not in noodle form, konjac noodles may likely have similar effects due to their predominant glucomannan content.
If you suffer from chronic constipation, any relief is welcome. Not only does fiber aid your digestion, but soluble fiber especially helps by drawing water and moisture to your stool. Larger, softer stools are the key to gentle passage through your intestines, and konjac noodles deliver in spades.
In both children and adults, glucomannan fiber is a proven effective constipation treatment, successfully curing even severe constipation in 45% of children taking glucomannan compared to a mere 13% of children taking a placebo.
In adults, glucomannan fiber improves gut bacteria and increases the frequency of bowel movements, serving as a gentle, natural laxative.
Glucomannan again comes to the rescue, this time for those who have diabetes or insulin resistance. Glucomannan helps lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion process and stomach emptying. This allows your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise slowly and gradually, a safer way to absorb nutrients into your bloodstream.
A study published in Diabetes Care demonstrated that those with type 2 diabetes who ingested glucomannan over 3 weeks had significantly lower levels of fructosamine, a blood sugar marker. A 2007 study also found that participants with type 2 diabetes who took glucomannan before eating glucose (sugar) had lower blood sugar levels 2 hours later when compared to a placebo group.
There are many studies suggesting that glucomannan may help reduce and balance your cholesterol levels. Glucomannan helps increase the amount of cholesterol that’s eliminated via your stool and lowers levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Some report that consuming konjac noodles leads to too-loose stools, flatulence, and bloating. Nevertheless, glucomannan fiber is known to be safe for adults and children at all the dosages administered in the above-linked studies, so it’s merely recommended that you add glucomannan and konjac noodles to your diet slowly to make sure your body reacts comfortably.
Konjac noodles take a little extra care to prepare. They’ll arrived packaged in a liquid that often has a fishy smell, which is there to help absorb the smell of konjac root. You’ll want to rinse the noodles before cooking (a few minutes under running water) to remove the smell, and then you can cook them on medium heat in a skillet with no added fat necessary. Let the excess water burn off and then start adding your other ingredients.
Check out three tasty recipes we’ve selected to see if any of them tempt your tastes.
Konjac noodles are an excellent healthy replacement for traditional wheat pastas for those seeking a low-carb way to get valuable dietary fiber. You can often find konjac noodles in grocery stores, or you can research and order them online. For a healthy weight, digestion aid, and blood sugar protection, look into trying konjac noodles today!