Shirataki Noodles

You may have heard of the latest craze with the so-called “miracle noodles,” especially among the keto diet and other weight loss diet enthusiasts.

These miracle noodles are actually Shirataki noodles. They are traditional Japanese products that are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in glucomannan.

Glucomannan comes from the Asian konjac plant root and is a water-soluble dietary fiber with multiple health benefits, often used to promote weight loss.

So, how healthy and beneficial are the shirataki noodles? Read on to find out more.

What exactly are shirataki noodles?

Shirataki noodles are long, thin, translucent Japanese noodles named after the Japanese “shirataki,” meaning waterfall.

The main ingredient of Shirataki noodles is glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber made from Konjac plant roots.

They are also known as yam noodles or konnyaku noodles and have become incredibly popular in the Western world as a weight-loss-promoting and healthy food.

Shirataki noodles contain about 97% water and 3% konjac flour (water-soluble glucomannan dietary fiber), and a touch of lime water.

In some cases, there is some added tofu to soften the rubbery texture of the noodles and make it more palatable for westerners.

The high water content of these noodles results in a very low overall caloric content of only 20 calories per serving.

The varieties with included tofu have a little more calories per serving but are still considered low-calorie foods.

They have a high concentration of soluble fiber, little digestible carbohydrates, and almost no fat.

Many individuals consume these “wonder noodles” to aid in weight loss and satisfaction since glucomannan can increase in volume by as much as 50 times after being combined with water.

A further advantage of shirataki noodles is that they need no effort to cook and may be substituted for regular pasta, rice, and other high-calorie, high-carb ingredients in a wide variety of dishes, including those from the West.

They are also vegan, gluten-free, and suitable for people with food sensitivities and allergies.

They are offered in dry or soft versions and don’t have a real flavor. They actually absorb the flavors you add to them, so you can prepare a meal of your taste with minimum calories, fat, and carbs and feel happy and full at the same time.

Shirataki noodles are high in soluble dietary fiber

The main health and weight loss benefit of shirataki noodles is the fact that their main ingredient, glucomannan, is a highly viscous soluble fiber.

It is derived from konjac plant roots and has the ability to absorb a lot of water and turn it into a gel of a much larger size.

It can absorb water, which is as much as 50 times its own weight.

As it absorbs the water in the stomach, the noodles expand and promote a feeling of being full.

Also, they move through the digestive system really slowly and help relieve the hunger pangs for longer, as well as delay the absorption of the nutrients from the food into the bloodstream.

At the same time, the shirataki noodles help improve the gut flora and act as probiotics for weight loss and for strengthening the immune system.

They nourish the microbiota by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria and thus help fight inflammations, boost the immune system, and also provide various other health benefits.

A study revealed that as the glucomannan in the shirataki noodles ferments and forms short-chain fatty acids, it produces a calorie per gram of fiber.

A typical 113 gram serving of these magical noodles contains only about 1-3g of glucomannan, so it is essentially carb and calorie-free.

Shirataki noodles can promote weight loss

Widely promoted as “miracle noodles,” shirataki noodles are becoming increasingly popular among people looking for healthier and lower-calorie foods.

They can easily substitute pasta in any of your favorite recipes and will absorb the tastes of the rest of the ingredients you add to your meal.

At the same time, they are almost zero in caloric value and in digestible carbs and fats.

Also, they expand in the stomach creating a fuller feeling and thus limiting the intake of too much other food.

They are completely vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.

These noodles are sold in various shapes and forms – including plain or fettuccini, spaghetti, macaroni, and others.

According to a recent study, a low carb diet is much more efficient for weight loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, and shirataki noodles are the perfect ingredients for this type of diet.

They are also very popular ingredients for the growing number of followers of the keto, paleo, and gluten-free diets as well.

Studies have shown that shirataki noodles, and especially their high viscous fiber features, can be powerful weight loss tools. They make the stomach feel full for a longer time, so you will end up being less hungry and hopefully eating less once you start consuming them.

Also, the fermenting glucomannan, which is the basic ingredient of the miracle noodles, turns into short-chain fatty acids, which boost the release of the hormone in the gut, promoting fullness.

Plus, consuming shirataki noodles prior to eating carbs can reduce the ghrelin hunger hormone as well.

Studies have shown that those who took glucomannan were more successful at losing weight than those who took a placebo.

However, another trial reported no significant difference in weight loss between the glucomannan group and the control group among patients who were obese or overweight.

Yet another eight-week trial found no connection between glucomannan and weight loss in the obese and overweight.

Subsequently, over nine other investigations arrived at the same conclusion.

The most reliable results from similar studies suggest that soluble fiber supplements such as glucomannan (and shirataki noodles) can promote weight loss but only in short term and without affecting BMI.

For long-term weight loss results, it is recommended that glucomannan or shirataki noodles (or other soluble dietary fiber) are combined with a low-calorie diet, and when possible – with an increase of the activity level.

Still, these studies are all for the basic ingredient of shirataki noodles and not for the noodles themselves. There are still no scientific studies on shirataki noodles and their benefits for weight loss.

Some studies have also suggested that the glucomannan supplement is only beneficial for weight loss if taken before each meal, while shirataki noodles are the meal itself.

Then again, these noodles are very low in calories, and low in carbs, so they can help you reduce the overall daily caloric intake, which can lead to weight loss if you burn more calories than you eat.

Other potential health benefits of shirataki noodles

As mentioned previously, there are no specific studies on the health and weight loss benefits of shirataki noodles, but there are plenty of studies performed on the main ingredient of these noodles – glucomannan.

The results of these studies suggest that soluble fiber can have various health benefits, including:

Potential adverse effects and risks of eating shirataki noodles

Although shirataki noodles are generally considered to be safe and healthy food products, they still contain glucomannan which is known to have potential adverse effects including loose stool, constipation, abdominal discomfort, flatulence, and diarrhea, as the NIH has warned.

Also, due to the fact that it is highly absorbent, glucomannan (but in tablet form) has been claimed to present a danger for children and adults of choking or intestinal blockages.

In some extreme cases, glucomannan can lead to malnutrition as well, because the soluble fiber can stop the GI tract from absorbing all of the essential nutrients from the food as it passes through the digestive tract.

As with all types of dietary fiber, it is advisable to introduce shirataki noodles to your diet gradually, so that your organism can get used to them slowly.

Keep in mind that the glucomannan in the shirataki noodles can interfere with the effect of certain medications because it can reduce their absorption into the bloodstream.

In order to prevent this from happening, always take your medication at least an hour prior to enjoying a delicious bowl of shirataki noodles.

How do you prepare shirataki noodles?

Shirataki noodles come in dry or liquid form and can be slightly daunting to handle at first.

When you open the package, you may notice a slightly fishy smell. Don’t worry, this is actually clear water, which has absorbed the smell of the konjac plant root.

In order to get rid of the smell, pour them in a strainer, and rinse them off under cold running water for several minutes.

If you can still feel the smell you can add a few drops of lemon, lime juice, or white or apple vinegar to eliminate it.

Then proceed to boil them. Add the noodles to a pot of boiling water, and boil them for 2 to 3 minutes at the most.

Boiling them for too long can make them rubbery or can burn them if the water evaporates.

Pour them back into the strainer in the sink and strain all the water from them.

You can then roast the noodles in a preheated pan or skillet, with a little fat for about a minute.

After they are done, add them to any dish you prefer.

The good news for all food lovers is that shirataki noodles can successfully replace all kinds of pasta as well as rice in any of your favorite dishes.

They will absorb the taste and aroma of the other ingredients you add to the dish.

As you can see they are incredibly easy and quick to prepare and can be the perfect low-car, low-calorie, and high-fiber addition to any of your favorite meals.

See also: How Consuming Apple Cider Vinegar Makes You Healthier

Final verdict – should you try shirataki noodles

The truth is that while there is no specific scientific proof regarding the weight loss and health benefits of shirataki noodles, there is plenty of evidence showing that the main ingredient of these magical noodles glucomannan has multiple health benefits, and can help promote weight loss if combined with a lower calorie intake, and an increase of activity levels.

Then again, shirataki noodles have almost zero calories, almost no digestible carbohydrates, and very little or no fats, so if you choose to substitute your regular pasta and rice with them, you will decrease your caloric intake significantly.

Also, the glucomannan in these noodles can help you improve your health by reducing your blood sugar levels, your cholesterol, improving your digestion, and bringing you various other health benefits.

More about weight loss: Glucomannan – Is It an Effective Weight Loss Supplement?


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