For the last few years, I’ve been passing by these noodles packaged in a liquid in the grocery store and never picked them up. I didn’t know how to prepare them or use them in a recipe, so I passed right by without much thought.
More recently, I saw a recipe that included shirataki noodles and the nutrient content showed it to be low in carbohydrates. I wondered how that was possible since the recipe included noodles. My curiosity got the better of me and I purchased a package to investigate and try it out.
Here is what I learned.
What are Konjac Noodles?
Konjac and shirataki noodles are both made from the starchy corm of the Konjac plant. It is a traditional food originating in Japan in the 6th century. They are made from the glucomannan fiber from the plant that is ground into a flour and then used to make the noodles. This is an excellent source of soluble fiber and “prebiotics” which are helpful for increasing the good bacteria in the gut.
The noodles are usually packaged in water, and they are mostly made of water. They have a somewhat gelatinous texture, but that wasn’t a problem for me personally. They are very easy to prepare as it just involves draining off the liquid and giving them a good rinse. To remove any odor from the packing fluid, plunge into boiling water for about a minute.
They don’t have much of a taste on their own, so they take on the flavour of the food they are cooked in. Therefore they are best used in soups and stir-fry dishes. See this pad thai recipe here.
What are the Health Benefits?
There are a number of health benefits that are associated with consumption of the glucomannan fiber.
- Assisting with weight loss – while consumption doesn’t cause you to lose weight, it helps you to feel full so that you are likely to eat less.
- Reducing constipation – the high level of fiber is beneficial for reducing symptoms of constipation. On the flip side, overconsumption can create undesirable digestive impacts such as loose stool and bloating.
- Improving cholesterol levels – numerous studies on konjac fiber use have shown cholesterol-lowering benefits
- Improving blood sugar management – supplementing with konjac showed improved fasting glucose
Are There Any Concerns?
While the konjac noodles seem like a miracle discovery with few calories and carbohydrates, I would caution you to consume them in moderation like you would any other food. You need a balance of macronutrients to feel your best and you don’t want to get too much of any individual food (even healthy ones).
I suggest that you give this food a try. Especially if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above.
Make sure you follow the preparation instructions to eliminate any remnants of taste from the packaging liquid. And keep an open mind. Like any new food, it can take a few tries to get used to it. And, don’t go crazy and eat tons of it every day.
Feel free to try any of your favourite soup or stir-fry recipes to do your taste test. Or, give this pad thai recipe a try.