Today’s latest diet fad comes in the form of noodles. And not just any noodles - but shirataki noodles. And here’s why this “fad” just might last, unlike all the other dietary crazy of years gone past.
Shirataki noodles, also known as “miracle noodles” by health evangelists, are largely composed of water and glucommanan. Glucomannan is a type of water-soluble dietary fiber which is highly beneficial for the body. Unlike most foods such as protein, fiber is not absorbed by the body but rather goes through the digestive process intact. This means that the fiber in shirataki noodles contains very little calories which are absorbed by the body. In fact, one cup of shirataki noodles contains only 20 calories, in contrast to a similar cup of spaghetti which contains a whopping 220 calories! And that doesn’t even include the rich sauce and meatballs.
As previously mentioned, shirataki noodles are very rich in fiber. However, the health benefits of fiber can never be overstated. For one, regular fiber intake helps relieve constipation. The soluble fiber that makes up the bulk of shirataki noodles dissolves in water and becomes a gel-like material which makes bowel movement much easier. In an age of microwaved food and fast food fare, regular fiber intake is thus essential to combat prolonged use of the porcelain throne.
The fiber in shirataki noodles also plays a major role in balancing blood sugar. Fiber actually helps slow down the absorption of sugar in the blood stream, as well as lowering blood cholesterol. In fact, doctors and dieticians typically recommend a high-fiber diet for patients suffering from diabetes or cardiac conditions. Shirataki noodles are thus beneficial for diabetics or people with heart ailments.
Besides fiber, shirataki noodles are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen to our blood cells. With enough iron in the body’s bloodstream, one can improve physical performance, energy levels and immune system. This is because muscles don’t tire easily when they receive plenty of oxygen, thanks to the increased levels of iron. Apart from muscles, the brain also benefits from higher iron, leading to better concentration and sharper focus and thinking.
Then there’s the calcium found in shirataki noodles. Calcium is one of the nutrients needed by the body in substantial amounts. Calcium is a vital nutrient for bone building and maintenance, which is the body’s framework. In addition, calcium helps balance high blood pressure and premenstrual syndrome, as well lowering the risks of heart attack.
Fitness buffs will also love shirataki noodles, thanks to its extremely low calorie levels. As mentioned above, while one cup of shirataki noodles contains just 20 calories, it packs the nutrient equivalent of nearly a full meal, except for protein. In recent years, people have started combining the noodles with tofu in order to have a balanced, low-calorie meal.
This led to the birth of Tofu shirataki noodles, which contain one gram of protein in a four-ounce serving. Protein is utilized to build muscles and cartilage, a fact appreciated by all body-builders and endurance athletes. Beyond muscles, our entire skin, hair and nails are also made up of protein. This should not escape women who wish to have glowing skin, smooth hair and perfect nails.
Unlike pasta and other rich “sinful” foods, however, one drawback of shirataki noodles is its rather bland taste. Thankfully, while it can be eaten on its own, shirataki noodles are actually a good ingredient for most other dishes. Since it’s a noodle, it can also be used as a stable and combined with garnishing, such as the above-mentioned tofu, to provide as richer texture as well as good source of added nutrients.
In fact, thanks to its growing fan base, a lot of recipes are popping up on the net for shirataki noodles. All over the country, people are finding a variety of ways to combine ingredients using the noodles as staple, not just to enhance the taste but provide additional nutrients. Some recipes add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, curry powder or sesame oil to the shirataki noodles. There are also ways of sit frying it and adding tofu, lean meat or vegetables for a fulfilling meal, one that doesn’t have to be as bland or empty-feeling as the dietary fads of before.