Konjac noodles are a fantastic food. Especially for Celiac pasta lovers who have been suffering needlessly with cravings for joyful pasta. Made from the flour of the konjac root. The konjac root is almost free of carbohydrates and calories as well as being Gluten Free. You can even have a second serving with less than 10 calories and nearly zero percent carbohydrates per serve! Konjac noodles could be the secret to shedding a few kilos if you wanted to. We have put together a small compendium of information about Konjac and hope you try some of our recipes at the end of this article.
Konjac noodles – also called Shirataki noodles – are actually something nobody can really believe: noodles that are healthy and with which you can lose weight with ease.
Konjac noodles are not – like conventional noodles – made from one type of grain, but from one root: from the konjac root (Amorphophallus konjac or in English: devil’s tongue). Konjac is an Asian root vegetable that has been cultivated and consumed in China, Korea, Japan and many other Asian countries for centuries.
In terms of consistency, the konjac root is somewhat similar to the potato. However, this is the only thing in common, as konjac contains neither starch nor other usable carbohydrates and also no protein. The konjac root consists of water and fiber, nothing more. And it is precisely this fiber in the konjac root that is so special about konjac noodles.
The konjac root contains an impressive 40 percent fiber. In contrast, wholemeal bread – which is known for its particularly high fiber content – only contains around 12 percent fiber, which is mainly insoluble fiber.
The konjac root contains soluble fiber. The soluble fiber in the konjac root is called glucomannans. Glucomannans are also found in some types of wood. The most abundant source of glucomannan known, however, is the konjac root.
In contrast to insoluble fiber, soluble fiber can absorb many times its volume in fluid – with glucomannans being able to bind more water than any other soluble fiber. And it is precisely this property – after the fact that konjac noodles are free of calories – the next reason why konjac noodles can help you lose weight so well.
To be able to lose weight with pasta is a dream for many people. Konjac noodle fulfills this dream. Konjac glucomannans expand in the digestive system due to their strong water-binding capacity and in this way ensure sustained satiety, which, together with a corresponding change in diet, leads to a reduction in excess kilos in the case of overweight – whereby the consumption of konjac glucomannans leads to a higher weight loss than one appropriate nutrition or diet alone. In a Norwegian study from 2005, the additional weight loss thanks to the konjac glucomannans was 0.35 kilograms per week.
Konjac glucomannans can also – like other soluble fiber – absorb toxins so they can be excreted in the stool and not get back into the bloodstream. But not only toxins are absorbed by the konjac glucomannans, also some of the dietary fats, so that overall less fat is absorbed.
All of these points together make for not only less weight on the scales, but also a reduction in blood lipid and cholesterol levels.
In a 2008 review published in the American Journal of Nutrition, scientists from the University of Connecticut analyzed 14 studies examining the relationship between glucomannans and cholesterol levels and found that the use of glucomannans reduced total cholesterol by an average of just under 20 mg / dL. It was able to lower LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol, around 16 mg / dL) and triglycerides (around 11 mg / dL). The weight of the test subjects also fell regularly when they took glucomannans.
In an earlier placebo-controlled double-blind study that was carried out on 63 healthy men at the Swedish Orebro Medical Center Hospital, comparable results were obtained – after taking just under 4 g of glucomannans daily for four weeks. The scientists involved wrote as a conclusion: “The results of our study show that glucomannans are an effective dietary supplement for lowering cholesterol.”
Lowering blood lipid and cholesterol levels often seems to go hand in hand with regulating blood sugar levels – and this is exactly what happens to many people who are enthusiastic about konjac noodles and who regularly consume glucomannans with this noodle.
In a study with 20 diabetics, the subjects took 3 g of glucomannans per day for four weeks. The rise in their blood sugar level after meals was thereby significantly reduced. The researchers then wrote that supplementation with glucomannans was recommended to control blood sugar levels.
Solid diabetes is usually preceded by slowly developing insulin resistance. To test the effect of konjac glucomannans on insulin resistance, scientists from the University of Toronto selected test persons who, in addition to insulin resistance, also had low HDL cholesterol levels (“good” cholesterol), increased triglyceride levels and high blood pressure, and who also followed a high-carbohydrate diet.
The subjects consumed 0.5 g glucomannans per 100 calories daily (for 3 weeks). The control group ate wheat bran crackers instead. In contrast to the control group, cholesterol and blood lipid levels, as well as the fructosamine level, decreased in the glucomannan group, which is an indication of the blood sugar levels of the last few weeks (the higher the fructosamine level, the higher the blood sugar level in the last few weeks). The scientists then certified that the konjac glucomannans had therapeutic potential for insulin resistance.
The great water-binding capacity of the konjac glucomannans naturally also has an extremely positive effect on digestion. If the stool is too soft, the excess water is absorbed in the intestine, the stool solidifies and its intestinal passage slows down. At the same time, the expanding konjac glucomannans lead to the intestinal peristalsis being stimulated. In the case of constipation, digestion is accelerated and bowel movements are noticeably easier.
This beneficial effect of glucomannans has been known to western science since at least the early 1990s. Italian researchers from the University of Milan announced at the time after successful studies:
“Glucomannans are very well tolerated and free of side effects. Due to their good digestive effect, they can be recommended as an ideal therapeutic measure in the treatment of chronic constipation.”
The test persons involved had taken glucomannans for two months. 1 gram twice a day for the first month and the same dose three times a day for the second month.
Another – also Italian – double-blind and placebo-controlled study came to a similar result, which was published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2000. Twenty children – suffering from severe brain damage – had been given glucomannans to treat their chronic constipation. Soon the glucomannans group had significantly increased the frequency of bowel movements, while nothing happened in the placebo group. The stool consistency was also better in the glucomannan group and painful bowel movements were less frequent.
Of course, glucomannans should not be regarded as the sole solution for digestive problems, as the soluble fiber does not eliminate the cause, which is usually to be found in an unsuitable diet and/or psychological stress. Exactly this point could be the reason for many a study that did not come to a positive result with regard to constipation solely through the administration of glucomannans.
However, as a supportive measure – for a simultaneous change in diet – glucomannans (in the form of konjac powder) or konjac noodles can be used very well. Especially because konjac glucomannans seem to have a very beneficial effect on overall intestinal health and can even reduce the risk factors for colon cancer.
Researchers at the Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan found in a study that the administration of konjac glucomannans has a very positive effect on the intestinal flora since konjac increased the number of bifidobacteria and lactobacteria (friendly intestinal bacteria) – despite the intestinal bacteria administered in this study high-fat diet.
At the same time, in the presence of konjac glucomannans, the content of short-chain fatty acids in the stool increased, which is a sign of both a healthier intestinal flora and a strong immune system. In addition, the decreasing activity of β-glucuronidase could be measured in the stool. Increased activity of this enzyme has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.
A further study with a diet that is also high in fat and – apart from the supplemented konjac fiber – fiber-free diet showed that glucomannans lower the MDA level in the intestines and in the liver. MDA stands for malondialdehyde. This substance is created in the body during the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids and is, therefore, a marker for oxidative stress. So the lower the MDA level, the better – and konjac noodles help!
The DNA damage to white blood cells (immune cells) could also be reduced by konjac glucomannans, which of course – together with the aspects described below – leads to a strengthening of the immune system.
At the same time, in the above study under the influence of glucomannan, the formation of endogenous antioxidants was accelerated, such as B. glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase (SOD). Konjac glucomannans obviously increase the antioxidant abilities of the organism and massively strengthen the body’s defenses.
These studies show that the dietary fiber in the konjac root itself has positive effects when it comes to an unfavorable diet and can compensate to a certain extent for the harmfulness of such a diet.
Even in the presence of diverticula (protrusions of the intestinal mucous membrane) – whether inflammatory or not – the dietary fiber from the konjac noodle has proven to be helpful.
In one study, researchers had prescribed their patients either just one antibiotic (group 1) or one antibiotic together with glucomannans (group 2). After 12 months of therapy, the patients in the second group fared significantly better than those in group 1, so that with this indication, too, glucomannans can be considered as an accompanying intake.
Alternatively, you can simply eat konjac noodles on a regular basis, as you already consume 5 g of glucomannans with 100 g of konjac noodles. But how is the konjac root made into a konjac noodle?
For the production of konjac noodles, the konjac root is ground into flour. Then the flour is mixed with water and calcium hydroxide – a calcium-rich and harmless stabilizer. The mixture develops into a gel that can now be cooked and then made into a wide variety of pasta shapes.
Even konjac lasagna sheets or konjac rice are available in specialist shops. Of course, this is not rice, but the konjac mass brought into rice form.
Konjac noodles have no nutritional value. Konjac noodles are therefore not eaten to recharge your batteries, nor to supply yourself with proteins, and just as little to enjoy vitamins.
The nutritional table for konjac noodles usually looks like this per 100 g:
Therefore, if you do NOT intend to lose weight, but still want to eat konjac noodles, you will have high-energy, protein-rich and vital substance-rich side dishes. If you want to lose weight, you should of course also make sure you have enough side dishes rich in vital substances (vegetables, salads) as well as a suitable protein and fatty acid supply, but feel – completely without carbohydrates – full, at ease and still light as a feather.
Practically, konjac noodles have no taste of their own. They can therefore be prepared according to your mood and take on the aroma of the appropriate sauce, spices, herbs or other side dishes. Konjac noodles can also be used for cold or hot dishes, yes, they can be processed anywhere that pasta was previously used.
The fine konjac noodles taste very delicious as a noodle salad with shaved Chinese cabbage and cucumber wheels, with finely grated carrots and fresh sprouts. A dressing of your choice (e.g. made from freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice, olive oil, a little garlic and fresh herbs) and the snack is ready, which will fill you up for at least three hours – with a minimum number of calories and a high density of vital substances.
The usual pasta and Bolognese sauces go perfectly with konjac fettuccine or konjac spaghetti, and with konjac glass noodles you can prepare unique Asian dishes that will delight your guests – especially when they learn about the properties of the konjac noodle.
Our house favorite: Fresh basil and pine nut pesto with finely grated Romano cheese.
For example, put some ghee in a deep saucepan and roast Ayurvedic spices of your choice (cumin, curry, fenugreek, turmeric, coriander, etc.) in it. Prepare your favorite vegetables (blanch, steam, etc.) and add them to the ghee-spice mixture together with konjac rice, which you have boiled in salted water for a minute. Stir well and let the vegetable and rice dish steep for a few minutes before serving.
Allowing it to steep (two to three minutes) in the sauce, vegetables or dressing is extremely important, as the aroma can then intensify particularly well and transfer to the cooked konjac.
And if you should read about a “fishy taste” of the Shirataki noodle alias Konjac noodle at some point on the net, this refers first of all to the natural smell of the konjac root and also to the wrong preparation. The smell or taste will only remain on the pasta if the pasta has not been rinsed as recommended before preparation. Because in contrast to “normal” pasta, the konjac noodles are not in the dry state in the packaging. Instead, they are pre-cooked and vacuum-sealed in an aqueous solution.
This is very practical because you only have to rinse them under running water and put them in a saucepan with hot or boiling salted water for a minute – and you’re done. So ideal for people without time or for the next vacation.
You don’t actually like pasta? But still want to benefit from the fabulous effects of the konjac root? Then the konjac capsules might be an option for you.
Konjac capsules were developed because it has also been officially recognized and confirmed that the konjac root helps with weight loss.
The European Food Safety Authority EFSA wrote in its journal in 2010 that at least 3 grams of konjac glucomannans should be consumed daily to promote weight loss – preferably in 3 servings of 1 gram each.
Konjac glucomannans should be consumed before the main meals, which of course should not consist of pizza or sausage with French fries, but rather dishes rich in vital substances and mainly alkaline. You should drink 1 to 2 glasses of water for this.
Konjac noodles are – as mentioned at the beginning – also offered under the name Shirataki noodles. However, make sure that these noodles – if you want to buy the pure and real konjac noodles – really only consist of konjac, water and calcium hydroxide and do not contain any soy or tofu mixes. If the latter is the case, the noodles are called Tofu Shirataki.
In addition, the konjac noodle is also available in organic quality, which excludes pesticide residues and stands for environmentally and socially responsible production.