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 toshirataki 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.
Glucomannanhas been banned in Australia and other countriesbecause it poses a choking hazard, and Canada's federal health departmenthas warned against taking supplements containing glucomannan without sufficient fluid intakefor the same reasons. Health Canada also recalled some powders, tablets, and pills containing glucomannan earlier this year.
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 familywas awarded $50 millionafter their 3-year-old choked to death on konjac gel candy). The U.S. Food and Drug Administrationhas announced recallsof 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. (If you find it somewhere, please share it with me.)
While living in Korea, I atejellyand noodles made from this yam, and they are among the few Korean foods I dislike. (Savory, starchy gelatinsare 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 shirataki noodles,says that "Miracle Noodles" taste like they have no calories.
How about you? Will you try them? Have you? Do you think that "no-calorie" foods can be delicious?