Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Shirataki Noodles: Low-Carb Blessing Or Curse?

Are shirataki noodles appropriate when you are livin' la vida low-carb?

One of my many faithful and dedicated readers asked me a question today about a supposedly low-carb pasta product called shirataki noodles.

Jimmy what do you know about these Japanese noodle? They are supposed to be low carb.

Actually, I have not personally had the opportunity to try this product yet, but I have heard about them previously. My friend Jason at LO-CARB U Foods lists 5 versions of shirataki noodles among his top ten bestsellers list currently and Elaine from Low Carb Connoisseur also lists these Japanese noodles that are lower in carbohydrates than traditional pasta at her online store.

So what about these noodles makes them so special? Let's take a look.

According to the Food Network's encyclopedia, shirataki (pronounced shee-rah-TAH-kee) is actually translated as "white waterfall," referring to the way the noodles look.

Here is the nutritional label for the specific brand Konjac Shirataki Angel Hair Noodles sold at Low Carb Connoisseur:

As you can see, there's not much of anything nutritionally in these noodles -- NO fat, NO net carbs, NO calories, NO sugar, NO protein, and NO gluten! But what DO they have? And what about the taste?

These thin, translucent, gelatinous noodles do not have a taste per se, but are able to absorb the flavors of anything you add to them. The shirataki noodles are ready to eat and come in a wide variety of pasta styles to meet your need. Incredibly, they can be stored at room temperature for up to one year.

Shirataki noodles are made from konjac flour, a water-soluble dietary fiber from the yam-like konjac plant grown in China and Japan. The dietary fiber in the konjac plant is called glucomannan which is sold in health food stores for weight loss. How about that?! Additionally, these noodles contain calcium and rank low on the glycemic index. Plus, because they are sugar-free, they are perfect for people with diabetes. Excellent!

I really like the fact that these noodles have fiber, an essential element of any successful low-carb program in my opinion. If eating shirataki noodles can help you add just a little more fiber to your diet, then that certainly can't be a bad thing.

Word about the healthy benefits of eating shirataki noodles is already spreading as evidenced by this Arizona Central column today, which notes an Illinois couple's decision to start eating this product to help them lose weight.

The kind of shirataki noodles they ate contained 20 calories per serving, but still helped the weight come off for them. The story notes that supermarkets all across the United States are now looking to bring in these noodles for their health-conscious customers to enjoy.

One reason for that could be the triple growth in one year of the major shirataki manufacturers in America thanks in part to the huge demand for the product at their sales page on Incredibly, these shirataki noodles have been advertised almost exclusively by word of mouth and yet sales are still booming. If you are looking for a GREAT investment opportunity, then you might want to look into these companies making shirataki noodles.

The story credits the web site for starting the shirataki noodle craze with her April 12, 2005 review where the web site editor Lisa Lillien gave the most glowing of reviews read over 100,000 times by readers looking for info on the hard-to-find product.

"We cannot possibly begin to explain to you how much we love and cherish these noodles," Lillien wrote. "They WILL change your life."

Lillien added that she has gotten close to 1,000 e-mails and calls from people about shirataki noodles in just the past year after promoting them online as well as on television. Now that's what I call "buzz" for a product!

But not everyone online likes this next great diet food to hit grocery store shelves.

My friends over at gave a big YUCK face to the shirataki noodles, describing them as "fishy" and "bouncy" while equating them to eating a bunch of rubber bands. Mmmm, yummy! NOT!

In response to this criticism, the manufacturers suggest boiling the shirataki noodles, which are packed in water, for about 2-3 minutes and they will have a texture remarkably similar to the pasta you love and enjoy.

Does anyone have any personal experience with shirataki noodles? I'm game for trying them at least once just to see for myself what all the commotion is about. If I can find them somewhere and try them, I'll let you know what I think. Until then, feel free to let us know what YOU think about them if you have been able to try them.

Got shirataki?

3-7-06 UPDATE: Well, I took the plunge and tried shirataki noodles for the first time today. Did I like them or spit them out? Click here to find out.

8-30-06 UPDATE: LOOKING FOR MORE ABOUT SHIRATAKI NOODLES? I have compiled ALL of my best posts on these amazing Japanese wonder noodles in this blog post to provide you with LOTS of great recipes, reviews of the various kinds of shirataki noodles, specific places where you can buy shirataki, and MUCH MUCH MORE! Check it out and THANKS for visiting my blog!


Blogger Unknown said...

I think I might have had them once and they were okay. I'd buy them if I could find them.

3/01/2006 11:05 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

I had some the other day. I am in Malaysia at the moment, and had a dish with these noodles, veggies, shrimp, quail egg and squid in it, in a egg-thickened fish gravy. It was delicious, and, of course, very low-carb. A nice fish soup as an appetizer, and a lovely bowl of sugarfree icecream... yummy! All of it prepared by the hotel chef, who lost 110 pounds on low-carb, 7 years ago - and kept it off!

Restaurants are often a good place to eat low-carb too. A little chat with the chef often does wonders - and a really good chef uses low-carb ingredients almost automatically: cream, lard, mutton, and healthy oils and broths in abundance, veggies, meats and fish.

By the way: there is quite some commotion in this region at the moment about yellow noodles: they have been found to contain (apart from unacceptable quantities of carbs) very high levels of boric acid: a chemical also used in wood preservation. Not exactly healthy. It's all over the newspapers here.

3/02/2006 12:31 AM  
Blogger branruadh said...

Shirataki noodles are ever so convenient. You can run hot tap water over them for two minutes and take care of rinsing and cooking at the same time.

3/04/2006 2:10 AM  
Blogger Maeve Alleine said...

I think i will stick to Dreamfields.

3/09/2006 10:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i LOVE them!!!!!!!!

5/16/2007 10:38 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I have been on the low carb lifestyle for 5+ years now and have seen the products come and go ... and have probably tried most of them ... I have had Dreamfields, but they do spike my insulin and I highly doubt their low carb validity ... test your sugars with a unit before and after and you will see ... it is better than regular pasta ... but by no means 5g carb or so per serving ...

As far as Shirataki ... these did not affect my sugars or ketones ... this is the real deal ... and for those people that love food and life ... losing weight is not easy ... these noodles are pretty good ... but dont expect pasta - if you do you are out of your mind anyway ... they are like egg noodles without any flavor ... but if you can cook ... you can make it work ... take it from an ex-300 pounder ... it is all about skill and experience ... a good cook can make anything delicious ...

I would compare these to a bland egg noodle with a slightly chewy texture ... the next day - they actually tasted a little better once the marinade I used soaked in a bit ...

But overall, I am a fan ... this will be a huge help to me in my low carb lifestyle ...

Who ya gonna listen to? Some whining skinny dude yelping about the slippery texture and smell ... or an ex-300 pounder that has eaten everything under the sun ... yeah, I thought so ...

If you have some cooking skills you can make these work, if you don't - don't waste the time.

6/19/2007 7:32 PM  
Blogger catmanjones said...

Just drain the juice and microwave for a couple minutes. They're more firm and chewy than noodles, but I eat them with my fingers at work and they curve any carb cravings.

8/23/2007 10:34 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Do not boil them!!! Only rinse them and hand dry them and then add them to whatever dish. You can also dry roast them which the Japanese do, more info at the following link

9/28/2007 2:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I am Nikki from Malaysia. Can anyone tell me where can I get the Dreamfields range of product in Malaysia?Thanks

6/13/2009 1:11 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Yes, I have eaten them and do occasionally buy them, but quite frankly I would rather eat less of the real thing than mounds of these. They really are quite unpleasant from a mouth feel standpoint.

And I am a vegetarian and have defended the merits of tofu. I love shitake mushrooms, I clamor for wheat gluten...

But this product has the strangest mouth feel and its fishy smell is off-putting at best; guaranteed to make you retch at worst.

That being said, I know people LOVE miracle products. Why else would Hungry Girl" become so POPULAR.

After all, people consume artificial sweeteners which only manage to create more sweet cravings due to their magnified sugary taste (500-1000x more sweet than sugar itself).

We are a country which loves to embrace a solution to everything.

My motto-moderation, quality, enjoyment.

Where is Julia when we need her most!

8/19/2009 12:56 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Shirataki noodles are wonderful in Thai food! my husband and I are ardent Thai cuisine lovers, and they go wonderfully well in these dishes- everything from red curry to pad thai! You can even use them in thai sprin rolls (with cabbage wrappers).

The versatility of these noodles is amaxing, and the fact that they are carb-friendly is freaking awesome!

12/07/2009 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're looking for them to taste like Western pasta... well, they won't all. But I'm Japanese and I grew up on them. They're great tasting, but you have to take them for what they are. Fish tastes great too... but not if you try to pretend it's the same as turkey. They're simply two distinct products.

4/15/2010 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Shirataki noodles! I have been eating them for months now since I adore pasta. I have always loved pasta more than the average person. Forget a steak! Forget a potato! All I have ever needed was pasta. If you are like me you will love this diet. I have lost 15 pounds by using these noodles, plus a little exercise, and the ( lets me log in my calories and watch what I eat). The exercise has been great for my toning. The NOODLE has been amazing at controlling my hunger and still letting me enjoy my food. Just imagine pigging out on your favorite pasta recipe and then loosing weight because its only 100-150 calories in the meal. All because the noodle (which tastes amazing to me) is 5 calories per Kilo! I make one large batch at the beginning of the week and eat as I normally enjoy my spaghetti. Please give it a try everyone! Please consider finding it at a local Asian or International market as I do. I buy them by the Kilo for only $2.00!!! ENJOY!

7/13/2010 9:31 AM  
Anonymous MaxineKL said...

I only recently read about konjak noodles in a women's magazine, then searched and searched (I was mistakenly looking for dry pasta). I finally asked at an Asian grocery cum health-food store, and there they were in the cooler. I (a yo-yo carb-lover) and my husband (slightly obese exercise-hater) both love them in stir-fries. We'd love to eat more, but they're a bit expensive here (Vancouver, BC) - the cheapest I've found are about 80 cents for a 200 g pack (120 g drained weight). So my question is, are you paying $2 a kilo including the packing water, or is that drained weight, and in either case, where do you find it?

2/24/2011 4:21 PM  

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