'No-Calorie Noodles': Will You Try Them?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you heard about the new noodles that have no calories? It's true. These noodles have no calories, fat, gluten or carbs. Made from a soluble fiber derived from a Japanese yam, the noodles have been available in Japan for years.

Some health professionals and manufacturers say the lack of carbs and fiber make these a viable food source for those who have diabetes, celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Their texture is similar to shirataki noodles, which contain the same fiber (glucomannan). Shirataki noodles--named after the shirataki yam (konyaku)--have been popular for a few years, but they have about 20 calories a serving because of the tofu they also contain. (The yam is also known as konjak, konjaku, devil's tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm, or elephant yam.)

However, not everyone is a fan of the noodles, and for reasons other than their slimy texture and fishy smell straight from the bag. (The smell goes away if you rinse them, and they morph from a squishy, squidlike texture to firm noodle texture as you heat them. I ate them while living and traveling in Asia.)

The research I did on the noodles didn't mention that this isn't the first time konjac has been popular--and that the fiber it contains has been banned in some forms and in some countries.

Glucomannan has been banned in Australia and other countries because it poses a choking hazard, and Canada's federal health department has warned against taking supplements containing glucomannan without sufficient fluid intake for the same reasons. Health Canada also recalled some powders, tablets, and pills containing glucomannan earlier this year. (Update: the owner of the noodle company says the noodles are mostly water and therefore pose no risk of choking.)

Health Canada warned that without consuming at least eight ounces of water with glucomannan, risks include "choking and/or blockage of the throat, esophagus or intestine, according to international adverse reaction case reports. It is also important to note that these products should NOT be taken immediately before going to bed."

Konjac candy has caused several deaths due to choking (one family was awarded $50 million after their 3-year-old choked to death on konjac gel candy). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced recalls of candies and sweets containing konjac gel and issued several warnings regarding choking hazards.

I couldn't find much information on the amount of fiber in the noodles, so there's no way for me to compare how much glucomannan is in them compared with the candy or the supplements. (Read to the end of the post for the noodle company owner's feedback. He says there is little fiber in them.) To clarify, I'm not saying that these noodles pose a choking risk--just providing information on the fiber they contain.

While living in Korea, I ate jelly and noodles made from this yam, and they are among the few Korean foods I dislike. (Savory, starchy gelatins are a popular side dish in Korea.)

All other information aside, I'm not a fan of these noodles. I would much rather eat smaller portions of a "real" food or abstain from it. In my opinion, the fewer calories a processed food has (bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, etc), the less flavor it has as well. As calories, fat, and ingredients go down, additives rise.

I know everyone has different opinions and palates, and shirataki noodles are wildly popular, so I imagine these will be as well. Even Hungry Girl, who loves tofu shirataki noodles, says that no-calorie noodles taste like they have no calories.

UPDATE: The owner of Miracle Noodles reached out to me. Jonathan Carp wrote: "My name is Jonathan Carp, I am the owner of Miracle Noodle. Today we received an email about your article. To clarify things, there is no risk of choking from shirataki noodles. Miracle Noodles contain very little actual fiber since they are 97-98% water as are all shirataki and konnyaku. They do not contain soy. Since they are already mostly water, they pose no choking hazard.

Dry roasting works well for the noodles and is one of the best ways to pre-prepare the noodles, http://www.miraclenoodle.com/dry-roast-shirataki-new.html but that is another topic altogether. They work great as a side dish that allows people to enjoy noodles without the guilt. Preparation is the key. There is a learning curve to working with them, which we provide when people buy our noodles, once you know how to cook with them, they are just as good as any other noodle. I would love to prove that to you:) Since you said you couldn't find the above information, I figured I would send it to you. I hope you might update your entry."

How about you? Will you try them? Have you? Do you think that "no-calorie" foods can be delicious?

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I would suggest you to try low calorie noodles from miracle noodle Report
I'm glad the owner of the company clarified the information. Report
I will probably try these as I enjoy Asian foods and like trying new items. Report
Tried few recipes & they're REALLY good! Just replace other noodles with these!
Check out SP recipes under 'shirataki' (used veggie broth rather than chicken for soup recipe)
I bought these recently and they were somewhat expensive. They smell badly and they are transluscent and slimy is exactly the right word. Their texture is strange as I am not a fan of gummy textured anything.
I tossed them with some veggies and they absorbed the flavor but hte texture was unfavorable. I also tried them in soup nd that was worse. Mind you I bought the fettucini size ones maybe the thinner ones would have been more tolerable. But NEVER AGAIN sorry. Report
I have tried and do like Shirataki noodles. They are slightly smelly when I first open the pgk. But rinsing them in hot water and then adding flavorings on top of the stove for a short time makes them totally enjoyable. The texture is something to get used to but I like the change. As I eat SP guide of 20-30-50% of Fat-Protein-Carbs, I like beging able to get my carbs in other foods vs. in whole wheat pastas all the time. Report
I just tried them a few minutes ago. When I opened the package, I thought that there would be an overwhelming fishy smell, but I had to put my nose close to the noodles to notice the smell that everyone is referring to. It smelled exactly like boiled shrimp to me. I put the noodles in boiling water and the smell, while it didn't totally go away, wasn't unpleasant after I drained the noodles. I actually took some spaghetti sauce (adding ground beef and onions to the sauce) and had spaghetti for the first time in over a year (I'm practicing low-carb eating) and found the meal to be very enjoyable. Being in Korea, local folks don't typically recognize the name "shirataki" so I had a hard time finding the noodles, but if you say "ko-nyak mook" here in Korea, there may be a chance that folks will understand what you're looking for. The noodles are a wonderful change for someone who's been low-carbing. I can see a lot of possibilities/recipes with these noodles. Report
As the old addage goes: "you get what you pay for". I probably will not try them just because of the "fishy smell".

If there's no carbs, fats, protiens or otherwise, then you're not getting the nutrition you should be getting when you put food in your mouth. That's why we are SUPPOSED to be eating...for nutrition and survival. Why waste the effort if you're not getting anything out of it? Report
Probably not. Report
I would love too!! i was using rice noodles as a substitute for spaghetti and it took awhile to get used to the stickiness but i love it now!! I think i will definitely give this one a try thanx for the article!! =) Report
No, I don't think I will try these. I will just have to work out harder and have regular or whole wheat noondles instead. Report
The fish smell and slimy texture before cooking would not be appetizing to me. I also prefer the feeling of fullness I get after eating whole grain pastas and that works for me so I 'll stick to it. Report
I can't decide. It might be nice when I'm hungry and out of calories and water isn't helping, but I don't like to eat food with no nutritional value. I won't even buy normal noodles that aren't high in fiber... I wouldn't be opposed to trying them, though. Report
i would try it... once - just out of curiosity...
i agree with an earlier comment by NELLIEC that if a product has no nutritional value there is no point in eating it. If i want to fill up on something to satisfy hunger without adding too much calories i'd eat a head of lettuce, or cabbage.
as far as zero calorie foods, the only calorie free thing worth consuming is water. Report
I think this is the perfect website to allow the manufacturer to provide a detailed article with all nutrition information & some youtube videos on how to prepare & enjoy eating them. Couldn't hurt. We all need to look outside the box & learn new things and then decide. This would be a great place to do that. And with hard economic times, seems we should give him a chance. Report
my dad likes them. he does the atkins and says the noodles take on the flavor they're cooked in. he had them shipped to my house and they looked like worms in the package. Report
I will definitely try them. As one who has to limit carbs for many reasons, it would be nice to have something even remotely close to pasta or asian noodles without the impacts that regular pasta has for me. Also, I wonder if its a little different than other processed foods because it's coming from a natural food source? As for the texture, if you eat authentic asian food, you will find that there are a lot of "slimey" textures that western eaters may not be accustomed to. My husband is part Japanese and I have definitely broadened my "food texture" horizons since being married to him. But it does take some getting used to! Report
No thanks! Spaghetti squash is my pasta replacement method of choice! Report
No, I don't think so. Hubby loves pasta (and is looking to lose some weight) but I don't think I could get him to try it; I can't get him to eat partial whole wheat pasta consistently! I don't much care for pasta, myself, so there's really no point. Report
I might them because you never know till you've tried it. I try not judge things to much from others opinion. Report
No way!
I'd rather gain 10 pounds eating two boxes of Rozonni Spagettii than eat that!
No thanks! Report
The fish smell would lose me. Think I will stick with spaghetti squash "noodles" or Barilla Plus. Report
No, I'll pass on the miracle noodles.
I eat them all the time. You have to dress them up because they don't have any taste of their own. They have a long shelf life. I like them. Report
We have access to numerous Asian foods in Hawaii. I grew up eating shirataki noodles, also what we call "long rice" which is made from mung beans. The photo with this article is misleading, these noodles do not look or taste like traditional pasta. Many of these foods are an acquired taste--I love these noodles but learned to prepare them from my mom who was Japanese. Report
Sounds a little iffy to me... though maybe a bite wouldn't hurt... Report
I am curious and may try them. There are many asian markets in the Sacramento area so I'm going to look for them. I will rinse and follow the advice given by the commenters on the blog. Might as well try them with some sort of Asian-style stir fry and flavorings.

I realize that they won't taste like wheat noodles, but rice noodles also have a different texture and taste. Vietnamese bun, for example, a plain rice vermicelli that is served with grilled meat or shrimp, fish sauce, chopped peanuts and fresh basil, lettuce and sprouts. I never thought fish sauce would be okay, but to me it's very mild, it's clear and light, not fishy and a little sweet. I love this dish!

The noodles don't sound like "diet food," but rather, an ethnic food specialty item. Some people will like it, others won't. I grew up eating Mexican menudo (tripe soup) which just grosses people out sometimes. I don't expect everyone to like it like I do. Different strokes for different folks. Report
I like the noodles. I found both the no-calorie ones and the ones with tofu that have minimal calories and have to say they are both good. I use plenty of veges with them and have tried going with a Italian flavor or Asian. I have also used them to make a nice vegetable soup. Report
I don't see myself trying these. Report
I wouldn't get as far as the taste I'm afraid. They look like worms and don't appeal to me whatsoever. I also think the same about spaghetti, so maybe I'm just strange. But my money stays in my pocket. Report
I've tried them -- when I'm starving and don't have a lot of calories left in the day, they fit the bill. I throw in a bunch of veggies, maybe some tomato sauce or other seasonings. Like tofu absorbs flavors, these noodles are similar. Not much of a taste on their own, but when mixed with other foods, spices, and flavors... Report
it sounds weird to me. I'd rather eat 'real' foods than the 'trick' foods. unless they have other nutritional benefits, I'll probably pass on this one Report
I'd try them. Just like when you were a kid, you never know if you like it until you try it! Report
Could anyone tell me where you can buy them? I would like to try them. Report
I have used them and liked them. with no calories I could add more veggies and eat more fruit and enjoy a snack. Report
I've tried them. Their very easy and good. I didn't taste any difference. I didn't have to worry about those calories. And I didn't lose any calories. I could eat more fruit and veggies. Report
They don't sound appealing to me. If the Korean restaurant we go to has them I might try them there. At this time I'll stick to my whole grain pasta! Report
I would not be able to get the fish smell out of my nostrils. Not for me. Report
Thank you for your article explaining these types of noodles, I've read about them in ads, and wondered as to how good they really were. My husband doesn't mind the ones with Tofu, but these latest ones sound absurd to me, probably wouldn't buy them, but would taste them if someone else cooked them properly, lol. Thank you for the information though!!!! Report
From the sound of them, I don't think I could get them down. Great idea though. Report
I have used these noodles for almost a year now and they are constantly sending me recipes to try. I like them and I have never had any problems with choking. It is like anything else when dieting and it doesn't have a good taste or you don't like it you have told us before add spices and vegetables, etc. I think everyone should keep an open mind unless you have tried them and really don't like them. I used it two or three times before I got the hang of how to cook with them and we like them. Report
I know I will not be trying them. I did try shirataki noodles and didn't like them at all... Report
No Thanks!! It does not sound appealing at all. Report
I use them all the time. My husband is diabetic and he eats these instead of regular pasta. If you know how to make them they can be quite good. Report
In answer to your sub-headline "Will You Try Them?" my answer is absolutely not. You have so completely bashed them that I can't imagine anyone having interest in them! Report
As many Asian markets are located in my community, I may very well be able to find them in town. I've found several that are fairly low in calories and high in fiber, but don't recall if they were made with the glucomannon or konjak/yam etc. I've had glucomannon in capsule form for years - that and spirulina - as a form of protein and fiber, and never had a problem with it, but I'm already in the habit of drinking plenty of water. That seems to be the key issue I'm reading in the article. Most noodles are already too long for me so I always cut/ break them into much smaller pieces before I cook them and that helps with the choking sensations I've gotten with even calorie laden pastas and noodles. So tough to say, but I would probably try it. Report
I might eat them if someone served them, but I won't go looking for them. No reason when there are plenty of easily available noodles. Report
i dont think ill be trying theese noodles, enough problems without adding more.ill stick to wwnoodles in small plate with salad and vegetables.(moderation) wins the game. Report
I am going to visit the web site and then make a judgment. I don't know where to find them so perhaps it will say something about that on their site.

If there is a choking hazard, it is definitely not worth it. However, for people who are experiencing a rough patch and who are emotional eaters, this could be a good temporary solution until they reach the point in their journey where they can deal with the emotional piece on a better level. Report
For me, I see no benefit from eating no calorie noodles. Report