Introduction: What are Konjac Noodles and how are they made?
If you have ever done fad diets and looked for alternative to pasta, then you have probably heard of Konjac noodles. Better known as Shirataki noodles, they are long, translucent, and gelatinous noodles made from a type of fiber that is found from the root of the konjac plant. The konjac plant is found most Japan and China and some parts in Southeast Asia and are also referred to as ‘konnyaku’ or konjac yam noodles. Because of their appearance, they are described as a “white waterfall” thus given their Japanese name Shirataki. It is no surprise that these noodles have been a popular part of Asian cuisine for many centuries.
These noodles consist of mostly water and glucomannan, which is a soluble but glutinous fiber found in Japanese konjac yam (also called elephant yam or devil’s tongue). The mixture is usually boiled and then formed into noodles or rice-shaped bits. With that said, shirataki noodles are mostly carb and calorie-free making them a chosen option for folks who are looking for healthier pasta options. Shirataki noodles are also known to be quite similar rice noodles but essentially lighter on the carbs.
Why are they called ‘Miracle Noodles?’
The fact that shirataki noodles are carb and calorie-free makes them a trending item for the keto health and diet food scene. Although they are told to be flavorless, shirataki noodles allow you to enjoy pasta and rice without consuming starchy and unhealthy carbs, sugars, and subsequently feel bloated after eating traditional grains.
They are also easy to prepare since they are mostly pre-made and packed as compared to other low-carb pastas like zucchini noodles (or zoodles) or spaghetti squash.
What makes them a keto-friendly replacement for regular noodles?
Since they are mostly made from water and fiber, shirataki becomes a popular favorite among people who follow keto diet. Although they are flavorless, shirataki noodles are as chewy as rice or egg noodles, and absorb any flavor you add, making it a deliciously healthy base for many keto pasta dishes.
Additionally, since shirataki noodles are a healthier option to regular pasta, it is not without any health benefits either. There are scientific studies that found that the soluble fiber glucomannan contains properties that can help with weight loss and overall improvement to health.
What are the health benefits of eating Konjac or Shirataki noodles?
When you replace high-carb and high-calorie foods especially pasta and grains with a virtually no-calorie and no-carb and high in water option, you will reap the benefits of a positive outcome to your health. That is why many keto dieters and those looking for healthier options have found shirataki noodles to be the best alternative by far and have raised the bar of its nutritional content.
Aside from weight loss, here are some benefits you can achieve when consuming shirataki noodles:
You get loads of fiber
Since shirataki noodles are essentially made from a soluble fiber from konjac roots, this makes it advantageous when getting your daily requirement of fiber for better digestion.
It helps you lose weight
It is a known fact that shirataki noodles are an effective weight loss element which makes it popular among keto dieters. It is due to the gelatinous fiber that makes the stomach slow down digestion and let you stay full longer. Several scientific studies have found that glucomannan prolongs the full feeling in the stomach causing less calorie consumption leading to weight loss.
It helps lower insulin and blood sugar levels
Another health benefit found in konjac root is that it helps reduce and maintain safe levels in blood sugar particularly for diabetes patients. Because the gelatinous fiber slows down the emptying of the stomach, blood sugar levels will less likely spike and more nutrients become absorbed in your blood instead.
It may help reduce bad cholesterol levels
It is found in some scientific research that when glucomannan is in our system, it helps excrete large amounts of triglyceride or bad LDL cholesterol through our stool so that more good cholesterol stays in the bloodstream.
It can potentially relieve constipation
Some scientific studies have observed that glucomannan in shirataki noodles have enough laxative effects to supplement healthy bowel movements and effectively relieves constipation.
Improves gut health
As glucomannan in shirataki noodles help with our bowel movements and relieve constipation, it is found that it is due to the gut bacteria that benefits our gut flora and keeps it healthy.
Are shirataki noodles really all that good or do they have side effects?
Despite its numerous health benefits, shirataki noodles also do not come without potential side effects. It is noted that too much consumption of glucomannan may cause digestion problems like bloating, loose stools, and even flatulence.
That is why it is recommended that glucomannan should be consumed at safe dosages to avoid any issues. Additionally, if it is your first time to include shirataki noodles in your diet, it should be introduced at a gradual rate to avoid any unforeseen problems.
It is also observed that there is a possibility that glucomannan can lower the absorption of certain prescribed medication, particularly specific drugs for diabetes. That said, shirataki noodles should be consumed at least four hours after taking medication or one hour before to prevent any health problems.
How to cook Shirataki noodles?
When preparing shirataki noodles and including them in your normal recipes for the first time, it can seem a little intimidating because of the unfamiliarity towards the food.
Most people found that opening a pack of shirataki noodles may give off a fishy-like odor because of the effects of water that has been soaked and mixed with the konjac root.
It is necessary to rinse them beforehand for a couple of minutes under running and clean water to remove some of the smell.
When cooking the shirataki noodles, it is important to heat them in a non-stick skillet without any added fat like butter or oil to allow it to form into a noodle-shaped texture by removing any excess water.
Below are eight simple recipes you can make at home using shirataki noodles:
Spicy Beef Shirataki Ramen
This is a simple and mostly basic recipe loaded with protein by the generous slices of beef being used as well as hard boiled eggs you can also add as toppings. If you are into ramen and beef, then this ramen recipe is definitely a must-try. For the full recipe, you can check it out here.
Shirataki Noodle Shrimp Stir-Fry
This recipe only takes more or less 15 minutes to make. The main ingredient for this dish is shrimps and shirataki noodles and is something a seafood lover should try. To know how to prepare this dish, click here.
Lentil Meatballs with Shirataki Spaghetti
Shirataki noodles is also a known food item for most vegans because of its mostly water and fiber content. That is why if you are a vegan and following a keto diet, this recipe is one for the books. Instead of regular meatballs, you use lentils and shape them into meatballs and then add them as your shirataki spaghetti topping. Check out the full recipe prep here.
Shirataki Tuna Noodle Casserole
Another seafood delight, this recipe uses tuna and essentially prepare it into a casserole. This dish is a combination of healthy, delicious, and loaded with nutrients especially fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. It is definitely a recipe you should also consider trying if you’re going to use shirataki noodles. See here for the recipe.
Japanese Mushroom Shirataki Pasta
This dish is amazingly only has 14 grams of carbs in it so if you’re aiming to lose weight, this is one dish you have to try. It is particularly better if you love mushrooms in your pasta. It’s also very easy to make, delicious, and loads of healthy benefits. Check this out for the full preparation.
Shirataki Pad Thai
If you love the classic Pad Thai, then you will love it even more if, instead of regular egg or rice noodles, you use shirataki noodles. Double the flavor and double the benefits. It is a win-win situation. Check out the recipe and preparation here.
Spinach Egg Shirataki Noodle Soup
Spinach and egg? That is definitely a tantalizing combination! This recipe only takes 10 minutes to prepare and uses both important greens and proteins that our body needs and using the miracle noodles to add an extra delight. You can click this link for the full recipe and preparation.
Keto Chicken Stir-Fry with Shirataki Noodles
Another keto favorite, this shirataki noodle recipe is truly authentic Asian as they come. It’s easy and quick to prepare, healthy, delicious, and is also a fan favorite for many keto dieters because of its low-carb content. Try it by checking out this link.
So, you don’t have to scour the streets in search of the finest shirataki noodles, there are available recipes everywhere so you can enjoy this Japanese noodle favorite at the comfort of your own home. Plus, bonus points if you are following the keto diet, shirataki noodles are definitely the best and healthiest option out there.
Where do I find Shirataki noodles?
They are mostly found in Asian stores or the whole foods section in any grocery store. You won’t be able to find them in the pasta section as they are sealed in water and packaged in small and see-through bags in the refrigerated parts of the store, usually near where the tofu is.
Conclusion: Is Shirataki good for you?
Yes, shirataki noodles are excellent replacements for regular or traditional noodles. They are essentially zero fat, calorie, and carb, making it the perfect element to help you lose weight and stay healthy. Aside from that, they make you less hungry all the time because of the gelatinous fiber in the konjac root. And finally, they can benefit those who suffer from high cholesterol and diabetes.
Essentially, they are good for your but not everything comes without side effects. Before consuming shirataki noodles, make sure that you introduce it slowly to your system and observe that you do not develop any kind of negative reaction. Moreover, seek your doctor’s advice if you are planning to start following the keto diet and use shirataki noodles as your alternative.