Are Shirataki Noodles Good for You?

Are shirataki nodles health

What if I told you there was a gluten-free, zero calorie, zero carbohydrate noodle that was a great alternative to traditional pasta noodles (for those who aren’t fans of veggie noodles)?

Turns out there is and while I was skeptical at first, I’ve come to love these incredible noodles:

What are Shirataki Noodles?

As you may guess from the name, shirataki noodles originated in Japan. They are made from the Konjac root, also called White Yam or Devil’s Tongue. They have a gelatinous texture and are a good source of the dietary fiber Glucomannan.

To make the noodles, the Glucomannan fiber is extracted from the Konjac root and mixed with water and limewater. This creates a gelatinous substance called konnyaku which is made into noodle-like or rice-like substances.

The finished noodles are 97% water and 3% indigestible fiber, making it a zero calorie noodle.

These noodles have gained the nickname “Miracle Noodles,” and are completely paleo and calorie-free.

They have virtually no taste on their own but have a slight fish-like smell when packaged wet. This is due to the water they are packaged in and can be easily rinsed off.

Some versions of these noodles have added soy or other ingredients so it is important to read labels if using these noodles. They can be found both wet (like these) and dry (like these) and can be used in many dishes in place of wheat-based noodles.

Are Shirataki Noodles Healthy?

It would seem like a product like this is too good to be true, but Shirataki noodles live up to their hype.

These noodles are a high-fiber food yet have no calories and no carbohydrates.  The Glucomannan fiber in the noodles is a type of viscous fiber (soluble fiber).  This is similar to what is found in chia seeds why they can absorb up to 50 times their weight in water.

Prebiotics in Glucomannan Fiber

The viscous fiber in Shirataki noodles is known as a prebiotic, meaning that it is indigestible to humans. It provides no calories or nutrients to human cells, but nourishes good bacteria in the digestive system.

This fiber also moves through the digestive system slowly and offers digestive and gut health benefits.

Certain beneficial gut bacteria function by fermenting this insoluble fiber in Shirataki Noodles and other fruits and vegetables. Gut bacteria feeds on the byproducts of this fermentation. This is one of the many reasons why vegetables and fruits are so beneficial and Glucomannan fiber is another source of this viscous fiber.

As Authority Nutrition explains:

In addition, viscous fiber functions as a prebiotic. It nourishes the bacteria living in your colon, also known as the gut flora or microbiota.

In your colon, bacteria ferment fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which can fight inflammation, boost immune function and provide other health benefits (1, 2, 3).

A recent human study found that fermenting glucomannan fiber to short-chain fatty acids produces one calorie per gram (4).

Since a typical serving of shirataki noodles contains about 1–3 grams of glucomannan, it’s essentially a calorie-free, carb-free food.

Glucomannan for Weight Loss

Shirataki products and other Glucomannan containing foods are sometimes recommended for weight loss. These foods are no-calorie and high-fiber and are recommended on various types of diets.

Though the fiber itself is indigestible to humans, it feeds gut bacteria and moves through the gut slowly, leading to a longer feeling of fullness and satiety. Studies have shown that daily consumption of Glucomannan fiber can help with weight loss.

This are several potential reasons for this:

  • It may reduce Ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels, especially when consumed regularly
  • Glucomannan may help stabilize blood sugar levels (source)
  • It may help improve cholesterol levels and ratios and may reduce LDL and Trygliceride levels (source)
  • It may help improve digestion and feed beneficial gut bacteria
  • It can stimulate the production of a gut hormone called peptide YY (PYY), which helps a person feel full for longer

Glucomannan as a Resistant Starch

Resistant starch is another name for a starch that doesn’t feed the human body directly but that increases fermentation in the gut and creates beneficial byproducts like butyrate (an important compounds linked to cell health).

Think of resistant starch as food for your gut bacteria because as the name suggests, it resists digestion in our guts but provides several benefits in the process.

Resistant starch may have many benefits for gut health and we aren’t consuming as much of it in modern times as we have historically.

While research has revealed the importance of probiotics and this is a booming industry of supplements, yogurts and beverages, prebiotics are also very important but not as trendy.

Glucomannan is a great source of resistant starch and an incredibly easy way to incorporate this into the diet.

The Downside of Shirataki Noodles

The one potential downside of Shirataki noodles containing Glucomannan (and other forms of resistant starch) is short term digestive discomfort.

Though Glucomannan is generally considered safe, there are some potential short term digestive side effects like bloating and discomfort. (source)

To avoid these issues, it is generally recommended to start taking Glucomannan and other forms of resistant starch slowly and work up gradually.

Additionally, because of the ability of Glucomannan to absorb a large amount of water, care should be taken not to consume it dry or without adequate water. Intestinal blockages have been reported from consuming large amounts of the dried form of this root.

It is best not to take Shirataki noodles or other Glucomannan containing foods within a couple of hours of taking medication or supplements as it may reduce absorption.

Where to Get Shirataki Noodles

These noodles and other products made from Konjac root are now available in many grocery stores and online.

I’ve tried the following types:

How to Use Shirataki Noodles

These noodles can be used in place of traditional pasta noodles in almost any dish, including Italian and Asian recipes. They are virtually tasteless and absorb flavors well, making them a perfect addition to stir frys, soups and pasta dishes.

Most brands come wet, or pre-hydrated in water within the package. They can technically be consumed this way, but it is recommended to drain them well and rinse under fresh water for a few minutes.  This removes the slightly fishy scent that is a result of the storage in water in the package.

How to Cook For Best Texture

For best texture, I’ve found the following method helpful:

  1. Drain the noodles
  2. Rinse under cool water for 1-2 minutes
  3. Drop into boiling water for another 1-2 minutes to further soften and improve texture
  4. Drain and pat dry and place in a dry skillet over medium heat for at least 5 minutes to dry slightly
  5. Add to dishes or add flavors as desired at this point

The Bottom Line

These noodles can be a great gluten-free alternative to regular noodles. They require some specific preparation but take on flavors well. Shirataki Noodles can be good for weight loss and are considered a vegan, paleo and nutritious alternative to other noodles.

Have you ever used Shirataki Noodles? How do you like to prepare them?

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Reader Comments

  1. I’m going to have to try these!

  2. I love hear noodles! Have been eating these for almost 4 years now. I cannot do gluten. They are so easy to prepare (faster than traditional pasta) and taste lovely. I rinse them drain them and microwave for a few seconds with sauce/toppings and voila!

  3. I like this alternative! I’m definitely going to have to try this.

  4. I’m one of the small minority who cannot tolerate Konjac, even in the tiny amount I can eat (gastric sleeve) I bloat, get gripping wind pain then spend the better part of the next 24 hours with loose bowels. I have tried repeated exposure to small amounts, but the result is the same every time. It’s such a shame, because gluten free pasta or vermicelli noodles are both ultra-high carb and pretty much off the list for me if I want to continue losing weight. So Zoodles are about it for me these days 😀

    • I can’t do the noodles either even though I love them. I think they drop my blood sugar too much as I get ravenously hungry a few hours after eating them. It takes many hours of continuously eating to get over this intense hunger. The hunger is so bad that it will wake me in the wee hours of the morning and I will even get nausea with it. Another family member reacts the same way (minus nausea). We have tried different brands and it is the same thing.

      Has anyone else experienced this?

    • Oh no. I was afraid of this sort of reaction too. I do not have a sleeve or have had any bariatric surgery, but I did have intestinal surgery 15 years ago where some of my intestine had to be removed. I don’t have a “bag” or anything but one side effect is loose bowels and sometimes very urgent feeling to use the bathroom. I can’t eat chia seeds for this reason. I saw in the article it said they digest slowly so I was hoping maybe that was a good sign for me but now I wonder if I may have the same reaction as you. I want to try but maybe I will try on a weekend or Friday night when I don’t need to go anywhere on a Saturday…just in case. Zoodles I can do too, but I get tired of them at times. It’s just not the same as pasta…sigh..

      • Do try small amount. We are all different and who knows may be fab for you and you will never know if u don’t try. As article says nicest when we’ll rinsed and boiled for 1 – 2 mins. I love them.

  5. great info on noodles. one comment: ghrelin was thought to be a hunger hormone but is now discovered just to be a signaler to yhe brain that food is in the stomach and to begin digestive process. i just took my certification exam for health coach and the book addressed this. i dont wanna post a link to respect your comment rules, but if you wanna look further into it, try googling it with ACE Fitness. thx!

  6. I’ve found the texture intolerable and the constipation for days afterward to not be worth it. I definitely put these in the too good to be true category.

  7. If it reduces absorption of medicine and supplements, wouldn’t it also reduce absorption of critical vitamins and minerals from your food? Not to say that this would prevent eating these entirely, but maybe it becomes a treat instead of a staple.

  8. I’ve been using them for a couple of years but I eat them on occasion. I had not thought of boiling them some more. I usually rinse them and dry them in a skillet. Then I add fatty sauces like alfredo, cheese sauce or Thai peanut sauce (all home made). I have used them with tomato sauce during family pasta night.
    They don’t really hold the sauces like wheat pasta. I consider them a delivery device for fat in a ketogenic diet. They have no flavor. The texture is kind like al dente except not as chewy. I’m grateful for your research in this article. I has no idea they were resistant starch and a prebiotic. This makes them more worth eating.

  9. Interesting. Paleo Mom just posted something about these noodles also. They are one of three fiber sources she says not to eat. I appreciate getting the good side from you and bad side from her to be better informed about something I had never even heard of. Thank you for all your great info. 🙂

    • I was going to say the same thing about the Paleo Mom article. So….who’s right? :/

    • Jennie, why did Paleo Mom say not to eat them?

      • I checked out the article and apparently the noodles may feed your bad gut bacteria as well as your good.

        • Oh, ok, thanks. That’s the same argument that some people have against taking prebiotics – that they might also feed the bad bacteria……..

  10. We have the slendier brand in Austrailia & I absolutely love them. We just got the lasagne recently & they work fantastic, tastes just as good as normal lasagne. After I rinse my rice & noodles ones I stir fry them with a bit of oil, garlic soy sauce before serving with my dishes, they taste even better this way ! So great for us low carbers ??

  11. I love them, but my husband’s gut can not tolerate them. They give him the runs.

  12. I’ve been GF for years, but as I have Crohn’s, & have had bowel obstructions in the past, these noodles are just too risky for my health. That being said…I have been tempted to eat them lol! I don’t though – not worth the risk.

    • They are non GMO
      I would not eat them either otherwise

      • Just curious Chantale, what does non GMO have to do with a person having past bowel obstructions & Crohn’s disease? We eat an organic diet in this household…sorry if I’m missing the point of your comment!

  13. These seem a little suspect to me for two reasons — is the root they’re made from organic and the water they’re packaged in safe/filtered? Certainly by now we know that products from Asia don’t quite have the same standards of food that we do, particularly seafood and the water it’s in. I’m curious if these are addressed on the packages and in the wet noodles?

    • Kelly, I was wondering about the water they’re packaged in too! If they’re great at absorbing any sauce they’re placed in, surely they’ve absorbed things from the water they’re packaged in. And like you said, we know that products from Asia don’t quite have the same standards of food we do–understatement! Now all I can picture is these noodles being packaged in disgusting tap water….ick. Does anyone know if the packages say anything about the water?
      As a type 1 diabetic with Hashimoto’s and MTHFR I would have loved a low/no carb paleo replacement for regular pasta. But sounds like I’ll have to pass on these–even if they don’t upset my tummy, they’ll most definitely give my husband problems. They don’t sound worth the risk to me.

  14. These caused GI distress for me. I bought 2 packages, ate one split into two meals and spent the whole next day in the bathroom. I could never bring myself to eat the other package even in the smallest amount.

  15. I’m on the keto diet, but have a very sensitive gut. I’ll have to try these out. Been dying to try making a keto-friendly Pad Thai and think these noodles would be perfect for that.
    I wonder what would be a good safe starter recipe and amount?

    -T.

  16. Hi there! I was wondering about the tofu shirataki noodles. I used to eat them allll the time until I was told by my obg that my hormones have basically shut down. I started reading about soy products and it’s harmful effect and haven’t had any since. Are the miracle noodles really any safer?
    Concerned (hopeful) future mama

    • I would definitely avoid the ones with soy, and the soy-free ones should not affect hormones in the same way.

  17. I have a Japanese colleague and we were just talking about these noodles. apparently they are very popular in Japan and are used especially to cut calories and lose weight. She cooked them for her family very often. If you want to buy them go to the Asian store in your town, I found them for about $1 a package!
    They also have the rice, dumplings and a whole piece (kind of tofu shape) version. She said the rice version is used cooked with the same dose of white rice and it tastes ok and cuts the calories in half.

  18. I tried glucomannan in the past and found that I have an allergic reaction to it. My throat and tongue swell up and breathing gets difficult. I now avoid it like my hubbies avoids shellfish.

    • Same here!! I just tried one long noodle last night and my throats has swollen so badly that I can’t talk. I’m actually a bit scared because it’s getting worse.

      • *throat* sorry about that! Typing too fast 🙂

        Update- It’s been a few days since my last post and I still can not talk. I’ve been drinking tea with lemon & honey. Hoping the worst of it is over.

  19. Thanks for the info. Two of my kids will eat these with me; the third (who is texture sensitive and also will not eat things like scrambleg eggs or gelatin) calls them “jellyfish noodles” and runs out of the room with a shudder when she sees them!!

  20. I was so hopeful with these, but found out I cannot digest them for the life of me. If I dare eating them I am violently sick for many hours. For me they are filed under the too good to be true category.

  21. when i look at the ingredients of shiritake noodles it contains soy which i try to stay away from…what do you think about this? not sure which brand it is…

    • There are some that have added tofu (soy) and I definitely avoid those.

  22. I’ve eaten these noodles for years. They are what is know as a great filler. I’ve found the best way to cook them is to pan fry using a nonstick skillet without oil. This removes the high amount of moisture and gives them a better texture to add to more dishes.

    Cheers,
    Karen

  23. I’m really excited to learn about these. My special needs child loves “noodles”. She has overall good health, so I expect she’ll digest these just fine, and the extra fiber will be a great benefit as we’ve had to supplement her diet with fiber since her baby years. I appreciate the comments of other readers as I will take into consideration the cautions, but I anticipate this will become a staple in our families diet.

  24. Was wondering if anyone has any info on Nongshin-Miga glass noodles.
    There made from sweet potato starch they are very low calories from what I can tell. Have just discovered them and love them ..

    • Yep, these are the noodles (called dang-myun) that Koreans use for a very popular dish called jap chae.

      Nongshin Miga is probably just the brand name, and when I looked them up, the package said dang-myun on it in Korean.

      I’m Korean and grew up with this dish. I don’t eat noodles very much any more just because they are a processed food, but I guess if you’re going to eat noodles, this would be a healthier choice. And jap chae is pretty healthy, with all the veggies. My Mexican sister in law loves this dish, so my mom makes it for her all the time.

    • Pretty much exactly the same as these…

  25. I have also tried noodles from Miracle Noodles. I have tried and loved them!

  26. Try small amounts first. I have an allergic reaction like my hubby has to shellfish. Glucomannan makes my throat swell.

  27. For people who need to manage weight and restrict caloric intake, shirataki noodles from miracle noodles can easily be incorporated into the diet on a daily basis.

  28. I use these with Nomnom Paleo’s garbage stir fry! Yum, its better than the thai restaurant!

  29. The JFC brand ingredient list is purified water, konjac flour and hydrated lime (whatever that is). They smell slightly fishy, and rinsing for a couple of minutes takes care of that. I usually add them to a really spicy soup. I find it helpful to snip them before adding, because they are really long. I would not let young children eat these (choke hazard as they do not dissolve like regular noodles) and, of course, if you have an anaphylactic shock type of reaction you are allergic to konjac and you absolutely should not eat them!

  30. How long can one store an open pkg of wet unrinsed Shirataki noodles in the fridge?

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