Shirataki Noodles and Nutrition

Shirataki noodles (also called konnyaku noodles) are traditional Japanese noodles that have recently gained popularity in Europe and North America because they are one of the few pasta choices available for many diet plans. Shirataki noodles have little flavor on their own, but they blend seamlessly into many Asian noodle dishes.

Shirataki noodles have little flavor on their own, but they blend seamlessly into many Asian noodle dishes. (Image: clemarca/iStock/Getty Images)

History

Flour made from the konjac plant, a yam-like tuber that grows in Japan and China, is used to make traditional shirataki noodles. Shirataki noodles made entirely from konjac flour tend to have a rubbery texture, so some manufacturers have started making the noodles with a combination of konjac flour and tofu to soften the texture and make it more enticing to Western palates.

Fat and Calories

Because konjac shirataki noodles are 97 percent water, they are very low in calories, with as few as 20 calories per serving. Tofu shirataki noodles have slightly more calories, but are still considered a low-calorie food. Both varieties of shirataki noodles have little or no fat. Many dieters report that shirataki add bulk to their dishes—without adding any bulk to their bodies.

Carbs and Fiber

The konjac flour in shirataki noodles is a good source of fiber. (Fiber from konjac flour is sometimes sold as a supplement under the name glucomannan.) A diet high in fiber can improve your digestion and strengthen your cardiovascular health. The fiber in shirataki noodles is very filling, and people who are currently eating a low-fiber diet are advised to start with small quantities of shirataki noodles until their digestive system can adjust. Shirataki noodles are also very low in carbohydrates, making them a good pasta choice for low-carb diets. They are also gluten-free and vegan.

Preparation

Shirataki noodles are sold packaged in water, and they should be drained and rinsed before using. Boiling the noodles briefly is recommended to reduce the rubbery texture of the konjac flour, but it is not required. Shirataki noodles are ready to eat directly out of the package, and you can run them under hot water to warm them up or add them directly to a pot of cooked soup.

Recipe Suggestions

Shirataki noodles are best suited for Asian dishes, although you may also use them to replace semolina pasta in Italian dishes. Dress up your shirataki noodles with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, curry powder or sesame oil. Make a stir fry with tofu or lean meat and lots of vegetables, with a package of shirataki noodles tossed in at the end of the cooking. Chop up shirataki noodles and add them to a pot of miso soup.

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