Shirataki Noodles, Konjac Yams and You

By | January 29, 2016

“Amazing”, “awesome”, “magical”, “miracle” are just a few of the words used to describe one of the hotter trends in health foods and diet foods, the Shirataki Noodle.

You may know that shirataki pasta noodles are filling yet gluten free, vegan, low carb and very low in calories…but do you know how? It all starts with the natural properties of the konjac plant.

A Brief History of Konjac Yams

konjacShirataki comes from the root of the konjac plant. According to the “World Checklist of Selected Plant Families,” the philodendron family includes 489 species. Many are grown as ornamental plants. One of the members of this large family, however, is also the source of an exceptional, low-calorie food.

The konjac plant is cultivated in China, India, Japan and Korea. Although sold as voodoo lily, dragon plant or devil’s tongue in the ornamental section of some American greenhouses, konjac is primarily grown in Asia for its starchy corm; a tuber-like section of the plant’s stem. This corm, commonly called the konjac yam, is a rich source of glucomannan; a water soluble fiber that has been used as a food, food additive and a medicine in oriental cultures for quite a few centuries.

The earliest reference to using konjac yam as a medicinal herb dates back to China’s Han Dynasty, approximately 20 centuries ago. This ancient document considered konjac useful in treating skin disorders, infections, coughs and even asthma. To this day, some practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine recommend extracts from konjac yams for a wide range of conditions including tumor suppression, blood stasis, hernias and constipation.

Unfortunately, scientific evidence supporting most of these claims is slim.

konjac, konnyaku, japanese healthy diet food isolated on white background

While shirataki noodles and other foods made from konjac yams may not clear up your complexion or heal a hernia, researchers have begun to discover a host of other health benefits associated with the soluble fiber which the yams contain.

When properly dried, the konjac yam can be ground into flour. This flour contains about 70% glucomannan and it can be further processed to achieve glucomannan content of up to 80%. This is a good thing. The more we learn about glucomannan, the more remarkable this soluble fiber seems to be.

Most modern research has focused on glucomannan’s potential for controlling blood glucose and cholesterol levels, aiding weight loss and improving digestive health. Let’s take a moment to examine these benefits more closely.

Controls Blood Sugar and Reduces Cholesterol Levels

In a study published in the American Diabetic Association journal, “Diabetes Care,” 11 diabetics were randomly asked to consume either glucomannan-fortified biscuits or biscuits fortified with wheat bran. They consumed these biscuits daily for 3 weeks in the year 2000. At the end of the study, researchers reported the glucomannan-fortified biscuits were better at controlling blood sugar and reducing cholesterol.

In 2003, the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” published a study in which 22 diabetics were treated with glucomannan supplements for a period of 4 weeks. Not only did they observe no rise in blood sugar levels but the researchers discovered that individuals with high cholesterol experienced a decline in “bad” LDL cholesterol levels even though they were not taking any medicines to lower cholesterol.

In 2008, “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” published a meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials concerning glucomannan. They concluded “Glucomannan appears to beneficially affect total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, body weight, and fasting blood glucose, but not HDL cholesterol or blood pressure.”

Weight Loss

shirataki noodles on red plateAll soluble fibers help with weight loss. One of the ways they do this is through absorbing water. This causes them to expand in the stomach and make you feel like you consumed a higher volume of food than you actually did. Since glucomannan has an exceptional expansion rate, it performs this task significantly better than most other soluble fibers. Add in the fact that shirataki noodles and some other made with glucomannan are also extremely low in calories and you’ve got the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Yes, it is just the beginning, because glucomannan-rich shirataki noodles bring additional weapons to help you win your battle against excess pounds.

The soluble fiber in shirataki noodles feed the friendly bacteria in your intestine. These well-fed bacteria turn the fiber into short-chain fatty acids which have been shown to protect against fat gain in some animal studies. Keeping the friendly bacteria in your gut happy may also have additional weight loss benefits as several human studies have shown a correlation between healthy colonies of friendly intestinal bacteria and reduced body weight.

With all these potential benefits, it comes as no surprise that a 2007 study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” reported that subjects treated with a combination of glucomannan and psyllium husk for a period of 16 weeks showed an average weight loss of 10 pounds while those receiving a placebo lost an average of only 1.7 pounds. A study published in the January 11, 2005 edition of the “Medical Science Monitor” also showed positive signs of weight loss when subjects were treated with glucomannan alone and when combined with other soluble fibers. However, the authors of this study concluded most of the benefits were related to the consumption of glucomannan. “Glucomannan induced body weight reduction in healthy overweight subjects, whereas the addition of guar gum and alginate did not seem to cause additional loss of weight.“

As you can see by the results of the studies mentioned above, the glucomannan in shirataki noodles is not some sort of miracle food. It will not cause you to drop 5 dress sizes in a week nor will it cause a decades old beer belly to vanish overnight. Used as part of a sensible diet and exercise plan, it does, however, have the potential to help increase your weight loss in moderate amounts. Let’s face it, when we’re in a tough fight against stubborn pounds, we can use all the help we can get.

Digestive Health

Before this article comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to revisit the list of benefits some practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine attribute to the consumption of foods made from konjac yams. Little research has been done to back up most of these claims. One of them, though, has been studied and confirmed.

In Japan, glucomannan is called “the broom of the intestines.” This designation refers to its perceived ability to help get rid of toxic matter and promote bowel health. Research has shown that soluble fiber, like the one in shirataki noodles, not only increase the production of a variety of cells and antibodies involved in the immune system but also decrease the ability of irritants to adhere to the mucosal layer of the colon. In addition to these benefits, the regular consumption of adequate soluble fiber may discourage the formation of polyps by raising the acidity level of the colon. Soluble fiber can be found in many healthy foods with a wide range of calorie counts. Shirataki noodles are certainly one of the lowest calorie ways to obtain the soluble fiber your body needs to experience these health benefits.

A study reported in a 2004 edition of “Pediatrics” found glucomannan was also helpful in the treatment of constipation in children. In this study, 46 children suffering from chronic constipation were treated with glucomannan or a placebo for a 4 week period. The authors of the study reported that consuming glucomannan led to significantly greater improvement in constipation symptoms. Which leads us to conclude, “the broom of the intestines” was working quite efficiently.

If you’re considering adding glucomannan to your healthy diet plan, we’d like to discourage you from taking glucomannan supplements in tablet form. Due to glucomannan’s exceptional ability to absorb water, there is a risk these tablets may expand enough to get caught in your throat. This danger is serious enough that tablets containing glucomannan have been banned in Australia since 1986.

shirataki noodles wonder slimWe believe the most pleasant way to enjoy the benefits of glucomannan is adding shirataki noodles to your diet plan. WonderSlim Shirataki Noodles are made in the United States to the highest quality and purity standards. Each 4-ounce serving contains a mere 10 calories and just 3 grams of carbs yet delivers 2 grams of soluble glucomannan fiber. These easy to prepare noodles can be used in dozens of ways to enhance your favorite dishes while delivering all the benefits we’ve detailed in this article.

Why risk expanding your waistline with high-carb, gluten-rich noodles made from wheat flour or other high calorie noodles when WonderSlim Shirataki Noodles provide all the benefits of a gluten-free, low-calorie, low-carb food that delivers 2 grams of valuable soluble fiber in every serving?

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