Although Zero Noodles are predominantly used as a pasta alternative in the UK, they are actually not a carbohydrate at all. They are classed as a vegetable. And, although they have a similar consistency to pasta, they are slightly more gelatinous.
Zero or Shirataki Noodles originate from Japan and are made from a root plant called the Konjac plant. They are largely composed of the soluble fibre glucomannan and water. Being relatively flavour-free, they take up the flavour of whatever sauce they are combined with and can be incorporated into almost any dish in order to bulk and satisfy, as can pasta, bread, rice or potato.
Water, Konnyaku Glucomannan Flour, Food Grade Calcium Hydroxide
The great thing about these noodles is that not only do they contain only 10 calories per pack but also they are sugar-free, gluten-free and virtually fat-free. Furthermore, having a high soluble fibre content and a low glycaemic index, they have been shown to help stabilise blood sugar levels, preventing cravings and overeating. Zero Noodles are, therefore, suitable for vegetarians, vegans and people with type 2 diabetes, as well as people with wheat intolerance or allergies to gluten or soy. As well as helping with weight loss, Zero Noodles may also lower blood cholesterol, cutting the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Studies have shown that glucomannan fibre may relieve constipation and aid weight loss as well as reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels .
A review of 14 studies on glucomannan, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008, concluded that glucomannan fibre lowered LDL cholesterol - the ‘bad’ cholesterol - and helped with weight loss .
In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority investigated the health claims made about glucomannan supplements. It concluded glucomannan could help reduce weight as part of a calorie-controlled diet. However, in order to get the benefit, ‘at least 3g of glucomannan should be consumed daily in three doses of 1g each, together with 1-2 glasses of water before meals’. Whether you get the same effect from consuming one daily serving in the form of zero noodles has not been tested.
The European scientists also concluded that, although there was no clear evidence that glucomannan lowered blood fats, there was enough evidence to say it could reduce bad cholesterol at doses of about 4g of glucomannan per day .
Glucomannan may also prove useful for type 2 diabetics as it has been shown to alleviate fasting blood glucose levels and improve lipid profile .
Natural health products containing the ingredient glucomannan in tablet, capsule or powder form have the potential to cause harm if not taken with at least 250 ml of water or other fluid. The risk includes choking and/or blockage of the throat, oesophagus or intestine. It is also important to note that these products should not be taken immediately before going to bed. However, eating glucomannan in the form of shirataki noodles does not appear to pose any choking risk due to the size of the noodles.
Zero noodles are definitely an acquired taste and some people find the texture a little difficult to get used to. However, as a bulking-out food that fills you up without adding on the pounds, you could do a lot worse. They are so low in calories as well as being gluten-, sugar- and fat-free that they might be worth a try. Having said that, zero noodles are not a miracle food and they will only help you lose weight as part of a calorie-controlled diet!
Written by Victoria Trowse.
1. González CA, et al. (2004). Glucomannan: properties and therapeutic applications. Nutr Hosp 19(1): 45-50.
2. Sood N, Baker WL, Coleman CI. (2008). Effect of glucomannan on plasma lipid and glucose concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 88(4): 1167-75.
5. Chen HL, Sheu WH, Tai TS, Liaw YP, Chen YC (2003). "Konjac supplement alleviated hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects--a randomized double-blind trial". J Am Coll Nutr 22 (1): 36–42.