Shirataki noodles are made from flour from the tuber of a plant called Konnyaku. Shirataki does not contain sugar and fat but has a lot of fibre, therefore it is a valued component of diabetic and slimming diets. Where did Shirataki pasta come from and what are its health benefits?
Shirataki noodles – composition
Shirataki noodles are 97 per cent. from water and at 3 per cent. from flour produced from the Konnyaku root vegetable (Amorphophallus konjac), also known as konjaku or konnyaku potato.
Konnyaku’s tuber is not pretty. It resembles a large, flattened beetroot, with uneven, rough skin. After peeling it, the Konnyaku tuber is ground into a mass, which is used to make flour, and ultimately to make Shirataki pasta.
Shirataki noodles have an intense white colour and a firm, but slightly gel-like consistency that makes it difficult to form more complex shapes. So, shirataki usually comes in the form of long ribbons. However, you can change the colour of this pasta by adding spinach to it in the production process.
Shirataki pasta itself has no flavour. Instead, it eagerly absorbs the flavours of sauces or other ingredients of the dish. Shirataki is also odourless, although a hint will come in handy here. It happens that the producers of Shirataki pasta dip it in a liquid with a fishy smell. However, you can easily get rid of this unpleasant aroma by rinsing the pasta under a stream of cold running water.
Shirataki noodles – where it comes from
Konnyaku tubers come from the area of Indochina. Konnyaku comes in over 130 varieties, but only one of them is edible to Japan and China, where they are extremely popular so far. Interestingly, before its culinary qualities were discovered, Konnyak was used as a medicine as … laxative agent, because it passes undigested through the entire digestive system, effectively removing all residues from it.
Shirataki noodles – health values
Shirataki noodles are fat, sugar, protein and gluten-free. Therefore, it can be a component of the diets of people with diabetes who do not tolerate wheat, as well as vegetarians and vegans.
Shirataki has few carbohydrates, because of only 0.5 g in 100 g of the product, which translates into its equally low calorific value – less than 3 kcal per 100 g.
For such a low-calorie product, Shirataki contains quite a lot of minerals – primarily calcium, but also potassium, zinc, magnesium and iron.
The greatest boon of Konnyaku tuber and Shirataki pasta is glucomannan, i.e. vegetable fibre. Our body still has not acquired the ability to digest it, so the properties of glucomannan, which cleans the digestive system of ballast substances and prevents, for example, diseases of the colon, have remained the same for hundreds of years.
Moreover, by reacting with water, glucomannan expands 17 times in volume, turning into a gel in the digestive tract. It fills the stomach, quickly giving a feeling of fullness, which is especially useful for people who are overweight and obese on reduction diets. In addition, the gel-like fibre substance covers the intestinal walls effectively preventing them from absorbing too much fat. As a result, Shirataki pasta also reduces blood cholesterol levels by preventing, among others, cardiovascular diseases.