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Konjac noodles are a healthy alternative to the noodles you get at your local takeaway. They’re the perfect food for a low calorie or low carb diet like the keto diet, or if you simply want to lose weight. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to find out the reasons why YOU should eat konjac noodles.
Ever heard of konjac noodles? It’s time to get to know this versatile noodle if you’re looking to improve your health in a number of ways.
Dr Lee said: “They may offer secret success for those trying to lose weight, salvation for those suffering from constipation, as well as lending a helping hand to those struggling to control their blood sugars.
“Don’t like noodles? – no worries – you can try konjac rice instead!”
The magic ingredient in konjac noodles is glucomannan – a high-grade type of viscous, dietary fibre obtained from the root of the elephant yam, or konjac plant, grown in eastern Asia.
The roots are dried, and glucomannan, the major polysaccharide constituent of the cell walls, is extracted.
When made into konjac noodles, these contain 97 percent water and three percent fibre.
Dr Lee said: “Glucomannan has the extraordinary capacity to absorb 50 times its weight in water – topping virtually all other types of fibre in this respect.
“Add water to glucomannan in a glass and it’s so gloopy when you turn the glass upside down, it stays inside the glass!
“As a soluble fibre, glucomannan acts as a prebiotic, passing through the gut to the large bowel, where it ferments, acting as a substrate for healthy colonic bacteria.”
Adding glucomannan to your diet through konjac noodles seems to have many health benefits, according to Dr Lee.
The health benefits of konjac noodles
Unbelievably, konjac noodles contain virtually zero calories, with 200g of noodles containing around eight calories.
The doctor explained: “The noodles can help you lose weight for a number of reasons.
“Firstly, the incredible fibre content means the food stays longer in the stomach before being ejected into the small intestine, helping you feel fuller for longer.
“And, if you eat glucomannan before eating other carbs, this leads to a reduction in the release of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry.
“In one 2005 review, which included seven studies, those who consumed glucomannan 2 to 4g per day for eight weeks lost an average of 5.5 pounds (1.4-2.5 Kg).”
The glucomannan in konjac noodles bulks out the stool and stimulates intestinal transport.
This helps the partially digested food to pass efficiently through the GI tract.
Dr Lee said: “Several studies have reported that glucomannan has a positive effect on bowel function.
“As an example, in one 2006, small, placebo-controlled study, eight participants consumed 1.5g glucomannan, with each meal, three meals a day for 21 days.
“Stool frequency was significantly increased, as was the wet and dry weight of the stool.
“There were also significant increases in the concentration of lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium – good bacteria with benefits for the microbiome – and of short-chain fatty acids which are also beneficial for health.”
If you’re worried about your cholesterol, try to include konjac noodles in your diet in place of white carbohydrates every now and then (and switch the rest to brown, wholemeal carbs)
Dr Lee said: “In a 2013 review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled studies, which included 12 studies involving both adults and children, konjac glucomannan resulted in a significant 10 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol and seven percent reduction in non-HDL cholesterol (both types of ‘bad’ cholesterol).
“The authors suggested these results would be of interest to those with cardiovascular disease trying to reduce risk factors.”
Helps regulate blood sugars
Several randomised short-term trials have shown that glucomannan can improve the insulin and glucose response in patients with type-2 diabetes.
“This is thought to be because the viscous effect of the fibre slows the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal.
“It also slows down the rate of glucose absorption from the gut into the bloodstream.”
Side effects of konjac noodles
As with all high fibre diets, common side effects include flatulence and loose stools.
However, no serious safety issues have been identified. It’s always advisable to increase the amount of fibre in your diet slowly.
Dr Lee added: “Theoretically, glucomannan might interfere with the absorption of certain types of medication.
“For this reason, glucomannan should be taken at least one hour after taking your medication.
“If you are diabetic, monitor your blood sugars carefully if you are adding glucomannan to your diet.”
How to eat konjac noodles
Don’t be put off by the fact that when you open the packet – they smell of fish, but there are no fish involved.
Dr Lee explained: “The fishy smell is due to the natural odour of konjac flour.
“They are packaged in water. Just run them under the tap in a colander for a minute or two. “Once cooked, they do not smell or taste like fish.
“They can be boiled – they take around three minutes – or added directly to a stir fry.
“However, boiling them first gives them more of an al dente pasta consistency.”
They can be used in many recipes – for example – Keto Mac and Cheese.
Konjac products can be purchased as noodles, rice or pasta.
Really hate the taste? Glucomannan supplements can be taken as an alternative.
Dr Lee advised: “The adult dose is usually between 2-4.5g per day in divided doses.
“They are not recommended for children. Always check with your doctor before starting any long term supplements if you have any health conditions.”
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