It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not! Shirataki noodles are almost entirely free of carbohydrates and calories. These noodles boast some seriously impressive health benefits: from reducing blood sugar levels to cutting cholesterol and improving gut health.
Adding these low-carb noodles to your diet can have a powerful impact on many aspects of your heal. Whether you’re on a low-carb ketogenic diet, following a grain-free Paleo diet or just looking for simple ways to reduce your caloric intake
What Are Shirataki Noodles?
Also commonly called konjac noodles, shirataki noodles are a carb-free and calorie-free type of pasta that has been skyrocketing in popularity recently.
They are made primarily from glucomannan, a type of fiber that comes from konjac root. Konjac, sometimes known as devil’s tongue or the konnyaku potato, is a type of plant that is native to eastern Asia.
They are produced by mixing water with glucomannan fiber and a small amount of lime juice to help retain their shape. They are then boiled and shaped to form noodles.
Shirataki literally translates to “white waterfalls.” The noodles are translucent with a glass-like appearance and are generally tasteless, absorbing the flavors of whatever they are cooked with.
Shirataki noodles are made mostly of water, containing about 97 percent water and 3 percent glucomannan fiber. For this reason, they are free of calories and digestible carbohydrates but provide many of the benefits supplied by glucomannan fiber, making them an excellent addition to the diet.
In addition to shirataki, konjac root is a common ingredient in fruit jelly snacks and candies. It can also be used as a vegan alternative for gelatin to add thickness to foods and is even added to some weight loss pills.
Benefits of Shirataki Noodles
1. Reduce Blood Sugar
Fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can maintain normal blood sugar levels and prevent dangerous spikes and crashes. Because shirataki noodles are high in glucomannan fiber, there is some evidence suggesting that they could help decrease blood sugar levels.
For those with diabetes, incorporating a few servings of shirataki noodles into your diet each week could be beneficial in keeping blood sugar levels under control.
2. Keep You Regular
The two main components of shirataki noodles — water and fiber — can aid in reducing constipation and promoting regularity.
Water helps soften the stool, making it easier to pass — thus preventing straining and constipation. It also helps get things moving through the digestive tract.
Fiber also aids in preventing constipation by adding bulk to the stool. Increasing your intake of dietary fiber has been shown to cause an increase stool frequency as well.
In addition to eating shirataki noodles, a diet containing plenty of high-fiber foods and lots of water can also be beneficial for supporting regular bowel movements.
3. Aid in Weight Loss
Because a serving of shirataki noodles contains almost no calories, it’s the perfect option when it comes to losing belly fat and slashing your caloric intake.
One cup of cooked spaghetti, for example, contains 220 calories, while a cup of shirataki noodles is calorie-free. Swapping your spaghetti for shirataki noodles just a few times per week is an easy way to cut out a huge chunk of calories and can lead to significant weight loss over time.
To optimize your weight loss, make sure you pair your shirataki noodles with healthy toppings like vegetables or light sauces. It’s also best to combine shirataki noodles with a balanced diet as well as regular physical activity.
Additionally, the fiber found in shirataki noodles can slow stomach emptying, causing you to feel fuller for longer.
4. Promote Gut Health
The dietary fiber found in shirataki noodles functions as a prebiotic. Prebiotics nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut, acting as a source of fuel to promote better gut health.
There are trillions of microscopic bacteria living inside your digestive tract, collectively making up your gut microbiome. These bacteria play a central role in almost every aspect of health, from strengthening your immune system to optimizing nutrient absorption.
Prebiotics have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation, act as stress relievers and even lower body weight.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are other good sources of prebiotics that can boost both gut health and overall health.
5. Reduce Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in the walls of the arteries, causing a narrowing of blood vessels and forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. High cholesterol is a major risk factor of coronary heart disease, and making modifications to your diet is the best way to keep cholesterol levels in check.
The glucomannan fiber found in shirataki noodles may be able to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Nutrition of Shirataki Noodles
They are made entirely of glucomannan fiber and water, so they are virtually calorie-free and free of digestible carbohydrates. They also contain no fat, cholesterol, protein or sodium.
This means that when you eat shirataki noodles, the main calories and nutrients come from whatever toppings you add, whether that’s sauce, cheese, meat or vegetables. For this reason, it’s especially important to pick healthy toppings to help round out your meal.
Because shirataki noodles are high in fiber, it’s best to increase intake gradually, and be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated in order to avoid adverse side effects.
Shirataki noodles are generally well-tolerated and safe for most individuals. Some people may experience side effects, however, which can include digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea.
While shirataki noodles are a great way to reduce your intake of carbohydrates and calories, they are also low in nutrients. If you’re eating these noodles regularly, make sure that you are consuming a well-rounded diet with plenty of nutrient-dense foods to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
Although uncommon, some people may also be sensitive to the glucomannan fiber found in shirataki noodles. If you experience any negative symptoms like hives, itching, swelling, wheezing or difficulty breathing, discontinue use and talk to your doctor immediately.