Low Carb Diets..Shirataki Noodles: What They Are and Where to Get Them
By Laura Dolson, About.com Guide
Updated June 10, 2011
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board
Tofu Shirataki Noodles
Image Courtesy House Foods America Shirataki noodles were originally developed in Asia, but they have recently come to the attention of people around the world. Because these noodles are almost totally a beneficial type of fiber1, they have almost no "bad" carbohydrates. There are some indications that they may have other health benefits as well.
How Shirataki Noodles Are Made:
Shirataki comes from the root of a plant (Amorphophallus Konjac, or a few other closely-related species) grown in various parts of Asia, and given many names in different places, including Konnyaku potato (or just konnyaku), konjac, konjaku, elephant yam (although as far as I can tell, they are not related to any other plant commonly called “yam”), and others. The fiber is also known as glucomannan.
Benefits of Shirataki Noodles:
There is some evidence that glucomannan, when tested as a powdered supplement, can play a role in blood sugar control, as well as improve cholesterol control and weight loss (see this report2). It also contributes to fiber intake and can be a substitute for starchy noodles.
Tofu Shirataki Noodles:
Shirataki noodles tend to be a bit “rubbery.” Although this can be somewhat reduced by a short period of boiling, one food developer found that adding tofu to the shirataki produced a “tamer” texture. It also adds a bit of protein and carbohydrate (1 gram protein and 3 grams carbohydrate per serving). This product is a little easier to find, at least in my area, than plain shirataki noodles.
How to Use Them:
Shirataki noodles are great in Asian noodle dishes3, but people have used them in lots of other ways. Finalists in a recipe contest4 used them in desserts, salads and patties.
•Pasta With Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce5
•Quick Chicken Alfredo with Shirataki Noodles6
•Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Basil7
How They Are Packaged:
Shirataki noodles come "wet" - packed in liquid. They are ready to eat out of the package. I usually just rinse them under hot water, cut them up a few times with kitchen shears, and add them to the dish I'm cooking.
As referred to above, the glucomannan powder can be taken in capsules as a supplement. Speak with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
How Shirataki Noodles Taste:
Shirataki noodles don't have a real taste of their own. Although in some cases, the liquid they come in does have a (hard to describe) flavor, I find this can be easily washed off, though some people like to use a short period of boiling.
Where to Find Them:
More Asian grocery stores carry shirataki noodles under one of the names above. They are also getting easier to find in areas with a smaller Asian population. The Safeway near me carries them (in the refrigerator case near the bagged salad greens), as well as health food stores. They will always be in a refrigerated case.
Online: Quite a few different vendors online also have them in stock, including Lo Carb-U Foods9 and Miracle Noodle10. A search will reveal more.This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please visit: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/products/p/shiratakinoodle.htm
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