What Are Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki Noodles: Shirataki noodles are a unique food that’s very filling yet low in calories. These noodles are high in glucomannan, a type of fiber that has impressive health benefits. In fact, glucomannan has been shown to cause weight loss in numerous studies. This article explains everything you need to know about shirataki noodles, including their benefits and cooking instructions.
“Shirataki” is Japanese for “white waterfall,” which describes the noodles’ translucent appearance. They’re made by mixing glucomannan flour with regular water and a little lime water, which helps the noodles hold their shape.
Shirataki Noodles Recipes
Also called ito konnyaku or konjac yam noodles, shirataki noodles have been popular in Asian cuisine for centuries, and are exploding on the health food scene as a keto-friendly pasta alternative. With nearly zero calories or carbs, these clear, flavorless miracle noodles let you enjoy pasta without the starchy carbs, sugar spikes, weight gain and bloat that come with eating traditional grains.
Shirataki noodles are keto-approved, vegan, and naturally gluten-free. Read on to learn more about shirataki noodles, including their nutrition profile and benefits, how to cook them, and where to buy them.
Shirataki noodles are made from the Japanese konjac yam (also known as devil’s tongue or elephant yam). These translucent, gelatinous noodles consist almost entirely of water and glucomannan fiber (a viscous, soluble dietary fiber), meaning they are practically calorie- and carb-free.
Unlike other low-carb pasta options, like spaghetti squash or zoodles (what the cool kids call spiralized zucchini), shirataki noodles take just a few minutes to prep, straight out of the bag. Shirataki noodles are chewy and feel incredibly similar to rice noodles. They soak up whatever flavors you cook them with, making these miracle noodles an excellent base for a variety of keto pastas.
Shirataki Noodles Where To Buy
The mixture is boiled and then shaped into noodles or rice-like pieces.
Shirataki noodles contain a lot of water. In fact, they are about 97% water and 3% glucomannan fiber. They’re also very low in calories and contain no digestible carbs.
A variety called tofu shirataki noodles is very similar to traditional shirataki noodles, but with added tofu that provides a few additional calories and a small number of digestible carbs.
Glucomannan is a highly viscous fiber, which is a type of soluble fiber that can absorb water to form a gel.
In fact, glucomannan can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, as reflected in shirataki noodles’ extremely high water content.
These noodles move through your digestive system very slowly, which helps you feel full and delays nutrient absorption into your bloodstream.
In addition, viscous fiber functions as a prebiotic. It nourishes the bacteria living in your colon, also known as the gut flora or microbiota.
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In addition, fermenting fiber into short-chain fatty acids can stimulate the release of a gut hormone that increases feelings of fullness.
What’s more, taking glucomannan before consuming a lot of carbs appears to reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
One review of seven studies found that people who took glucomannan for 4–8 weeks lost 3–5.5 pounds (1.4–2.5 kg) .
In one study, people who took glucomannan alone or with other types of fiber lost significantly more weight on a low-calorie diet, compared to the placebo group
In another study, obese people who took glucomannan every day for eight weeks lost 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) without eating less or changing their exercise habits.
However, another eight-week study observed no difference in weight loss between overweight and obese people who took glucomannan and those who did not.
Since these studies used 2–4 grams of glucomannan in tablet or supplement form taken with water, shirataki noodles would likely have similar effects.
Nevertheless, there are no studies available on shirataki noodles specifically.
Additionally, timing may play a role. Glucomannan supplements are typically taken up to an hour before a meal, while the noodles are part of a meal.
Shirataki Noodles Keto
While zoodling your veggies can make for delicious, nutrient-dense pastas, some days you just want the ease of tossing some noodles in a pan, ready to go. Shirataki noodles are about as easy as it gets.
You will likely notice an odd or fishy odor when you first open your package of shirataki noodles. Fear not, the noodles themselves are tasteless, and some quick but essential prep work will take care of the odor:
- The noodles come packaged in water, so first drain and rinse them thoroughly with clean water in a colander.
- Start some water at a low boil, and toss the rinsed noodles in for just 2-3 minutes. Rinsing and boiling the noodles will take care of the fish smell and improve their consistency.
- After that, dry roast the noodles in a pan with no oil for about a minute to heat off the extra water and give them more of a traditional pasta mouth-feel.
- Toss them with the sauce and toppings of your choice. They’ll take on the flavor of whatever you mix them with. Tah-dah! They’re ready to go.
Shirataki Noodles Nutrition
Traditional shirataki noodles are made entirely from water and fiber from the konjac yam (plus a little lime to help the fiber stay solid). This fiber is called glucomannan and is a soluble fiber that can help boost your digestion and curb hunger. Glucomannan is available as a health supplement and studies back its potent ability to curb hunger hormones, fuel good gut bacteria as a prebiotic, and keep you regular. The glucomannan fiber in shirataki noodles can also support weight loss and boost your cardiovascular health, by improving cholesterol and blood sugar.
Calories in shirataki noodles: Because noodles contain only fiber and water, they are essentially calorie-free, making them an excellent choice for most weight-loss diets. Depending on the brand, nutrition labels list between 10 to 20 calories per 100-gram serving (roughly 3 to 4 ounces). However, this also means that noodles are pretty much nutrient-free as well (in fact, they’re about 97% water). Without any of the micronutrients or phytochemicals found naturally in whole konjac, or other plant-based pastas, the nutrition content of shirataki noodle pastas depends mainly on your toppings, so be sure to supplement your dish with healthy fats, pastured meat, and plenty of veggies.
Where do I find shirataki noodles?
You can buy shirataki noodles at Walmart, Whole Foods, and in many regional supermarket chains. Just don’t look for them in the pasta aisle. Because shirataki noodles are sealed in water, and you’ll find them packaged in small, clear bags often in the refrigerated sections, next to the tofu.