WHAT IS KONJAC?

Author: Ivy Chua APD


All you need to know about diet noodles

I tried this healthy ramen in Japan, which is vegan konjac ramen with pumpkin and beetroot soup base. The konjac noodles, also called shirataki noodles, are chewier than the traditional ramen. They are thin, white and translucent. The chef also said this noodle is good in sukiyaki (Japanese one pot meal) since it absorbs the soup well!

You may see different diet products that made with Konjac in the markets and they are popular due to their apparent capabilities for weight loss. The konjac products include shirataki noodles/pasta, konjac jelly, konjac lasagne and rice. They have been claimed to be low in calories, minimal carbohydrates and gluten free. One common question from the people who want to lose weight is –is it ok to rely on these products in a weight loss diet?


Konjac is made from the root powder of Asian yam. It is made of a starch called glucomann. Konjac products are zero to very low in calories. They are made mostly from glucomannan, water and fibre. They are good snacks to satisfy random cravings, to lower cholesterol and to increase your daily fibre intake in addition to your healthy and balanced diet and may be useful for people who want to cut down some calories in a day. However, since these konjac products provide no other nutrients except fibre, having it regularly as a staple without nutritious accompaniment may lead to higher risk of malnutrition. It is good to include some of the konjac products as snacks or to replace some of the portions of your normal diet. However, you may have the risk of missing out certain food groups if you solely rely on the low-calories konjac products in the diet to lose weight.

For people with diabetes, it is aware that konjac noodles do not provide your body with the sugar required. Konjac root contains around 40% of the soluble fibre, glucomannan, which promotes the feeling of fullness and can helps in balancing blood sugar. On the other hand, these noodles are low in carbohydrates, which are suitable for those following a low-carbohydrates diet plan.



Tips on preparing your konjac/shirataki noodles

  • The noodles easily take on the flavour of the soup or sauce you mix them with.

  • Soup base recommended: vegetable stock cube/miso soup/tomato and eggs soup/chicken soup.

  • For vegan/vegetarian diet, you may stir fry the noodles with toppings like spinach, mushroom, onions, carrots and kimchi. Kimchi adds a pungent flavour to the noodles and also provide you lots of probiotics. Add tofu and beans as the protein source in your meal.

  • It is recommended to cook the konjac noodles with hot water for 5-6 minutes before tossing the sauce. Mix the noodles with salad dressing or 2-3 teaspoons of soy sauce and it can be a filling snacks in between meals.

Focus on nutrition not calories

When it comes to losing weight, I would say focus on the nutrition of the food not the calories. Rather than focusing on the calories of the konjac products, think about the nutrition of them and what nutrients/food groups you may be missing in your diet. According to the Dietitians Association of Australia, focusing on a healthy lifestyle, combining healthy foods from these five food groups every day helps in weight management:

  • Include plenty of vegetable, legumes and beans in your diet. Try to include different types and colours of vegetables in your diet.

  • Include whole grains like breads, rice, pasta, noodles and oats

  • Include lean meats, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds

  • Include dairy like milk, yoghurt and cheese.

  • Limit energy dense and low nutrition value food, which contains saturated fat, added sugar, added salt and alcohol.

Reference:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Effect of Glucomannan on Lipid and Glucose Concentrations, Body Weight; Nitesh Sood, et al.

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