By Sean Zucker –
Human flight, the 1980 U.S.A. Men’s Olympic Hockey team and Shirataki noodles? All three have been referred to as miracles, the last of which are due to their nutritional value and utter lack of calories. While maybe not in the same category of redefining human travel or defeating the heavily favored Soviet Union on the ice, experts agree shirataki noodles are a dietary secret that’s due for their moment in the spotlight.
Often branded as miracle noodles, shirataki noodles have been used in traditional Japanese dishes for generations. Boasting a watery appearance and made of konjac yam, they can be purchased in dry or wet packaged forms and prepared dry roasted and drained to diminish their bitter taste and present a more pasta-like consistency, according to Miracle Noodle, one of the better-known shirataki brands.
Notably, the noodles are remarkably low in calories, to the point they are almost entirely devoid of them. Healthline suggests this is possibly due to their composition which is roughly 97 percent water. The other 3 percent is derived of glucomannan fiber, a highly nutritious soluble fiber that presents a series of its own benefits. Perhaps chief among these is their ability to absorb up to 50 times their weight in water, making anyone eating them feel fuller faster and for longer, discouraging unnecessary excess munching.
One 1999 study has recently re-emerged to connect shirataki noodles and glucomannan fiber with helping to manage type 2 diabetes. The University of Toronto’s work examined the impact of glucomannan on type 2 diabetes patients and found that over an eight-week period those who regularly ingested it saw a significant reduction in blood sugar levels and improved heart disease risk factors.
The University of Connecticut followed up by investigating the impact miracle noodles have on cholesterol levels. Its findings, the cumulation of fourteen studies, found glucomannan appears to beneficially affect total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and even body weight.
The noodles may also be an ally in the ever-growing battle against gluten and gluten sensitivity. With similar texture and versatility, shirataki noodles have been positioned as a perfect gluten-free alternative to pasta. Gluten-Free Living even went as far as referring to them as gluten sensitives’ new best friend.
If you’re having trouble digesting all of these Shirataki noodle health benefits, so to speak, the noodles have you covered here as well. They have been linked astonishingly with helping adults and children combat constipation. The University of Iowa found glucomannan to specifically aid constipated children, both those on laxatives and those not taking any. The Institute of Nutritional Science at Chung Shan Medical University went on to suggest even a modest dose of glucomannan promoted bowel movement by 30 percent and improved colonic ecology in constipated adults.
Luckily, shirataki noodles are widely available both in supermarkets and online. Give them a shot because with barely any calorie intake, much like Herb Brook’s crew, you’ve got nothing to lose.