Shirataki Noodles Are Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Pasta

High-Fiber Noodles from Asian Konjac Yam

shirataki noodles
Shirataki noodles are low in carbs and come in all kinds of different shapes. Amawasri

Shirataki noodles are an option for pasta if you are on a low-carbohydrate or gluten-free diet. While they don't mimic the exact taste and texture of regular pasta—they're gelatinous and mostly tasteless—they can take on the flavor of whatever sauce you're preparing. They also are a source of glucomannan fiber. Learn more about how to use these noodles.

What Are Shirataki Noodles?

Shirataki noodles are made from a tuber of an Asian plant (Amorphophallus konjac) called a konjac plant or konjac yam.

The tubers are dried and ground to make flour. In Asia, this flour has been used for centuries to make noodles, tofu, and snacks, as well as used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Shirataki noodles have almost no calories, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, or protein. They contain a beneficial type of soluble fiber called glucomannan that isn't digested in the small intestine. With almost no usable carbohydrates, they don't cause blood sugar to rise. They are gluten-free and vegan.

Cooking Shirataki Noodles

Many shirataki noodles come "wet," or packed in liquid. These are ready to eat right out of the package. You may want to rinse them under hot water to eliminate the odd flavor that some describe as fishy. You can trim them with kitchen shears to your desired length and add them to the dish you are cooking.

To soften them and make them less rubbery, boil them for two to three minutes or cook them in the microwave for one minute.

In addition to those packaged in liquid, you can also find shirataki noodles uncooked, or dry. Prepare those as directed on the package.

Shirataki noodles are great in Asian noodle dishes, but their versatility means you can use them in any recipe that calls for noodles. Try them in this turkey tetrazzini or quick chicken alfredo.

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

Tofu shirataki noodles are manufactured by adding tofu to the shirataki flour for a less rubbery texture. These noodles are opaque and yellow-white, better mimicking the appearance of wheat flour pasta. They have a bit more protein and carbohydrate than traditional shirataki noodles, with 1 gram of protein and 3 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

You can find tofu shirataki in a variety of shapes including macaroni, spaghetti, fettuccine, and angel hair. They come pre-cooked but can be parboiled for two to three minutes or microwaved for one minute to heat them.

Where to Buy Shirataki Noodles

It used to be that shirataki noodles could only be found in Asian grocery stores or online, but they are now widely available at health foods stores and larger grocery stores. Look for them in the refrigerated section, either with the produce or with the dairy products, depending on where the store usually displays tofu. You can also buy them online.
Buy Shirataki Noodles from Amazon.com

Health Benefits of Glucomannan 

You may find references to the health benefits of shirataki noodles due to the glucomannan fiber they contain. Keep in mind that most studies are conducted using glucomannan supplements rather than the noodles.

According to studies, glucomannan may have beneficial effects on cholesterol and triglycerides. Studies are inconclusive as to whether it has an effect on weight loss, with some reviews saying yes and others saying no.

Glucomannan is a soluble fiber that swells to many times its original volume when combined with water. It forms a gel-like mass in your digestive tract that might help you feel fuller after eating and could keep food in your stomach longer. Fiber, in general, is known to help lower cholesterol, improve constipation, and act as a bulk laxative.

Health Canada warns that tablets and capsules containing powdered glucomannan need to be taken with at least 8 ounces of water and should not be taken immediately before going to bed.

Otherwise, it could swell and block the throat or intestines. Wet noodles should not produce this same effect, but it's wise not to eat dry noodles without preparing them per the package instructions.

A Word From Verywell

When you are eating low-carb or gluten-free, you have an increasing number of choices for pasta substitutes. Using vegetables such as spaghetti squash or zucchini for faux noodles is another creative way to have your pasta dish without the pasta.

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Sources:

Health Canada Advises Canadians that Natural Health Products containing Glucomannan May Cause Serious Choking if Used with Insufficient Fluid. Health Canada. http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2010/13439a-eng.php.

Onakpoya I, Posadzki P, Ernst E. The Efficacy of Glucomannan Supplementation in Overweight and Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2014;33(1):70-78. doi:10.1080/07315724.2014.870013.

Sood N, Baker WL, Coleman CI. "Effect of glucomannan on plasma lipid and glucose concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure: systematic review and meta-analysis." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. October 2008 vol. 88 no. 4 1167-1175.

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