Shirataki noodles are traditional Japanese noodles that are thin, low-carb and chewy. They are made from a dietary fiber called glucomannan, derived from the konjac root. This fiber contains more than 16 amino acids and several vitamins and minerals. Many potential health benefits come from the glucomannan in shirataki noodles, including weight loss, decreased cholesterol, diabetes control and gastrointestinal regulation. These noodles are available online, as well as in Asian and natural food stores.
According to Drugs.com, glucamonnan passes unchanged through the colon. It is believed to cause weight loss by promoting a feeling of fullness, delaying the emptying of the stomach and slowing movement through the colon. "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" published a study on glucamonnan in 2008 that found a statistically significant weight loss with the use of this fiber. Shirataki noodles are basically calorie-free, so they can help with a weight-loss program if substituted for high-calorie pasta.
Drugs.com states that konjac mannan found in shirataki noodles appears to inhibit the transportation and absorption of cholesterol in the colon. "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reported in a 1995 study that there was a 10 percent reduction in cholesterol levels of 70 men after a four-week treatment with glucamannon fiber. "Diabetes Care" found that compared with a placebo, konjac mannan fiber significantly improved the cholesterol ratios in 11 patients. Shirataki noodles can be part of a heart-healthy, low-cholesterol diet.
Glucomannan reduces glucose levels after you eat, and it likely improves insulin sensitivity, according to Drugs.com, which reports on a study done in "Lancet" with 13 diabetic patients. After 90 days with a glucomannan supplement, their average fasting blood sugar levels fell by 29 percent. "Diabetes Care" concluded after its study that konjac mannan fiber may help with blood sugar control in high-risk diabetics. Shirataki noodles are a healthy pasta substitute for diabetics.
Glucomannan contains polysaccharides, which swell with the absorption of water, making it a useful laxative. Drugs.com states that konjac glucomannan has been investigated for its role as a prebiotic, which is an agent that stimulates beneficial intestinal bacteria. A study of eight volunteers who supplemented with glucomannan found a 27 percent increase in bowel movement frequency, as well as the improved ease of passage of stool. Shirataki noodles can aid in constipation, as well as help with hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.