We recently received a question from a Paleo Plan member about shirataki noodles. To be honest, I’d never even heard of them before.
Q: Are Japanese shirataki noodles allowed on the Paleo Diet? They are made from the konjac plant and have virtually no carbs and are also gluten free. They are a good substitute for pasta.
A: We all love our noodles, and sometimes spaghetti squash just doesn’t cut it on the Paleo Diet. Shirataki noodles are very low carb, translucent, thin “noodles” that originated in Japan and they’re made from the root of the konjac plant. They are about 97% water, the other 3% being comprised of fiber and some trace minerals. It has a slimy consistency and no flavor, so it soaks up the flavors of whatever you cook add to it. You can buy shirataki mixed with tofu (definitely not Paleo) for a different consistency or shirataki mixed with seaweed for added minerals, among other variations. They’re often called “yam noodles,” but they have no relation to the yam family, dioscoreaceae.
So, is it Paleo? Not really, but I know that a lot of Paleo people eat them on occasion. Technically, konjac is not on the list of things to eat on the Paleo Diet, as laid out by Loren Cordain or Robb Wolf, but in the beginning, neither were sweet potatoes.
If we base our answer to this question on whether or not there are any “anti-nutrients” in shirataki noodles to deem them unsuitable for Paleo, as far as I know, there aren’t. If we’re talking about weight loss and Paleo, since they’re almost completely made of fiber they shouldn’t hamper anyone’s weight loss goals.
Now, if we look at whether or not our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten the stuff, it’s possible they would have eaten the actual root that shirataki is made from, but probably not in this form. The other thing to consider is whether or not it’s worth your time to eat it, since it’s low in all nutrients but fiber.
I think if you have a hankering for something noodle-like, go ahead and eat it, but I wouldn’t make it a staple in your diet. Vegetables are a much more nutrient dense source of fiber, so you get more bang for your buck.
Keep your questions coming!