Regular wheat-based spaghetti contains 158 calories and 31 grams of carbohydrate per 100g cooked. Konjac-based spaghetti contains only 14 calories and 1.7 grams of carbohydrate per 100g. That equates to just 9% of the calories and 5.5% of the carbohydrates found in wheat based spaghetti.
They taste a little more like noodles than spaghetti, but when they are covered in sauce, it’s quite difficult to tell the difference. The noodles are very neutral in flavour so will pick up the flavour of any sauce you add to it and as an added bonus, they will retain their shape and texture without going gluggy, unlike regular wheat-based pasta.
- Nutritional comparison of various wheat & Konjac pastas. Image: Slimpasta
You can find shirataki noodles in most Asian grocers though you may have to spend a while looking through all the different types of noodles available! It is usually sold ready made and resting in a bag of liquid, ready to drain, heat and eat. There are also a number of companies making shirataki noodles including:
Konjac is a root vegetable commonly consumed in Asian countries and largely composed of water and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fibre. Glucomannan is sold as a supplement to lower blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides and body weight and to treat constipation by increasing bulk in the intestines. It is also used in food as a thickener and gelling agent.
A comprehensive review of published scientific literature in 2008 found over 3000 published studies on the effects of glucomannan. Researchers filtered these studies to include only those which were randomised and placebo controlled and which examined at least one of eight hallmark features of metabolic syndrome including blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and body weight. Out of a short list of 29 studies lasting up to 4 months, 14 were selected for meta-analysis, which concluded that using glucomannan significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, triglycerides, body weight and fasting blood sugar.
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. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;88(4):1167-75. PMID: 18842808