Spotlight on Konjac Noodles

Konjac Noodles is an emerging carbohydrate alternative that is being marketed heavily and can be found at most local supermarkets. The varieties of Konjac products have a front of pack labelling with claims that they contain no-fat, no-carbs and are only 10 calories (42kJ) per serve!

These ‘diet friendly’ low calorie pasta and rice replacements have people believing they are the answer to everyone’s carbohydrate issues. Often when things are too good to be true, they really are. So, it’s time we unpack these products and find out more about them!

Konjac is an Asian root vegetable that has been around for a long time. It is extremely high in fibre, which makes up the large bulk of this vegetable. When made into a pasta/grain they add only water, and preservatives. There is no added sugar or carbohydrates. 

When looking at the ‘Angel Hair’ by “Slendier” per 200g (roughly 1 large serve) it contains 8 calories, 6.1g of fibre and 23.7mg of Calcium – and that is it on the nutrition label. There is 0g carbohydrates, fat and protein. When comparing these products to the Weight Loss Surgery label reading guidelines- technically, these meet the criteria (<10g of total fat and sugar per 100g). Whilst these noodles are derived from a natural product and are low in calories - the question is where do these sit in regards to food groups? They aren’t a protein; they aren’t a carbohydrate, so what are they?

Whilst they are extremely low in calories and nutrients - they are adding nothing to your day. Even though this may be appealing, we need to take a closer look. If you are taking the approach that it's not adding any calories to your day, it is important to think what nutrition is being provided by these? Essentially nothing. No nutrients, no protein, no healthy fats, no vitamins. When you eat a food like this, it is taking up valuable room on your plate, room that could be replaced with protein or vegetables that are going to add a lot more nutritionally to your body, and keep you fuller for longer. 

It is also important to consider if it is that low in calories it's likely that you’ll be hungry an hour later, as it's not providing your body with anything it can use for fuel to keep you going. You may find yourself reaching for a snack later on – a snack that could be unhealthy option after dinner.  

So where do these noodles fit in a healthy balanced lifestyle?

Despite health claims, these foods need to be treated the same as all other carbohydrates. They fill you up quickly, make you feel heavy, displace more important food groups such as protein, and cause you to be hungry later on due to the lack of protein and other nutrients. They are possibly similar to refined carbohydrates, because nutritionally they aren’t adding any value to your diet. 

Moral of the story? Although these diet foods are very appealing and safe to consume, they aren’t always the best option. While Konjac based products are okay if eaten occasionally, they need to treated like refined carbohydrates and had in moderation.