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Shirataki noodles: are they a superfood?

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may have already heard of shirataki noodles. These noodles were invented by the Japanese more than 2,000 years ago.

Shirataki noodles are made from ground flour from the bulbous root (or corm) of the Konjac plant. This flour is known as konjac flour and is not a carbohydrate like traditional flour. It is 100% soluble fiber that is combined in a ratio of 3% to 97% water to create a solid gel. When left in blocks, this gel is called konnyaku. When shaped into noodles, it is called shirataki, which means ‘white waterfall’. Traditional konnyaku is gray in color from the addition of seaweed to the mix.

Konnyaku and Shirataki are effectively calorie free as the human body is unable to convert fiber into energy. Even if konjac flour were a traditional carbohydrate, a 100-gram serving of shirataki would contain only 12 calories based on the three grams of fiber it contains and the fact that one gram of carbohydrate contains four calories.

Most of the health benefits of shirataki stem from the fiber content. The American Dietetic Association recommends 20-35 grams of fiber per day. The average American only consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day.

Shirataki Health Benefits

One serving of shirataki noodles per day;

  • Helps prevent “spikes” in blood sugar levels by stabilizing them.
  • They are gluten free.
  • They are carb free and ideal for low carb diets like Atkins.
  • It reduces cholesterol levels by around 10% and LDL (bad cholesterol) by 7.2%.
  • Reduces triglycerides by 23%.
  • Reduces systolic blood pressure by 2.5%.
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • It reduces inflammation and helps prevent the formation of polyps in the colon.
  • Helps in the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
  • Increases healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • Helps prevent colon cancer.
  • It effectively contains zero calories making it ideal for weight loss. Compare this to an average of 210 calories per cup for traditional pasta or noodles.
  • Fiber acts as an appetite suppressant by slowing digestion and keeping you full longer.

Disadvantages of Shirataki

  • Contains zero nutrients other than fiber.
  • Too much shirataki can cause diarrhea.
  • Some people may find the smell of shirataki unpleasant. (Simply rinse the shirataki to remove the smell.)
  • Shirataki has a gelatinous texture similar to rice noodles and some people do not like this texture, especially if they hope to replace traditional pasta.
  • Shirataki noodles have little flavor, so they must be combined with other savory foods.
  • Insufficient other foods at the same time as shirataki will result in malnutrition.

Warning: In the 1960s, a Japanese writer named Soichi Ohyake is rumored to have died of malnutrition after eating nothing but konnyaku and shirataki in an effort to lose weight.

So shirataki noodles are a super food. The answer is a definit no!’ The term superfood refers to foods that are highly nutritious. Clearly this does not apply to shirataki noodles as the only nutrient is fiber.

However, when used in conjunction with a healthy, balanced diet, they are ideal for anyone who wants to lose weight and reap the health benefits they provide. Therefore, it pays to make them a regular part of your diet.

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