Konjac Rice and Noodles: Health Benefits of Adding Them in Your Diet

Foods made from the konjac plant are high in non-digestible carbohydrates and low in calories. Consuming konjac rice or noodles is also good for health.

A konjac tuber placed on top of wood chips

If you are looking for low-carb foods, konjac rice may be a good option to explore. Also known as elephant yam, the konjac root is native to various parts of Asia. This root vegetable is also a common ingredient for konjac jelly or noodles.

Konjac is not used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a herbal ingredient in formulations or remedies. However, the various health benefits of konjac consumption do align with TCM beliefs. For instance, TCM believes that konjac can neutralise toxins, help with phlegm, and dissipate swells, lumps, and clots. It can also help with indigestion, bruises, and burns. 

Health Benefits of Consuming Foods Made from the Konjac Plant (i.e., Konjac Rice)

1. Helps Regulate Cholesterol Levels

A bowl of konjac rice displayed with two bowls of vegetables
Konjac rice is a suitable alternative for regulating cholesterol levels.

The consumption of water-soluble fibre can help keep cholesterol levels under control. A 2017 meta-analysis shows that glucomannan — a type of soluble fibre found in konjac — can reduce LDL and non-HDL cholesterol levels in the body. In fact, you can consume konjac alongside other TCM ingredients. A 2018 clinical study shows that a combination of konjac blend and American ginseng reduced the LDL and non-HDL cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also improves blood sugar control and potentially helps lower the risk of heart disease.  

Cautions: Consult a TCM practitioner before taking this combination. “As with any food or herbs, you should consume konjac in moderation or sparingly depending on your body constitution and medical condition. Never self-diagnose and consume without professional guidance from a TCM physician,” notes Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew from Real Health Medical Clinic in Singapore. 

“There is a TCM saying, 是药三分毒, that translates as ‘all medicines have their toxicity’. It aptly implies that all medicines, even those mild enough to be used as food, must be consumed with caution,” says TCM physician Yew. The same applies to food, as TCM believes that all foods have their own unique nature and properties, which can upset the bodily balance if not consumed in moderation. 

2. Improves Bowel Movement

A larger intake of glucomannan-rich foods like konjac jelly or noodles can help improve constipation in pregnant women. A 2018 study shows that 32 constipated pregnant women who consumed this fibre achieved better bowel movement and increased stool consistency, thus easing their discomfort.  

In the same way, a compilation of clinical studies also show that glucomannan use contributed to an increase in the frequency of passing stools amongst 122 children.

3. Supports the Relief of Skin Disorders

Woman wrapping her arms around her midsection in pain as she sits on a sofa
Eating konjac rice or noodles can help to improve bowel movement.

Konjac is also known for its healing ability against hyperpigmentation, redness, and dry, itchy, or oily skin. This is because konjac is an abundant source of ceramides — also known as lipids — which play an essential role in preventing skin dryness and improving the conditions mentioned above. Applying konjac glucomannan hydrolysates on the skin effectively reduces infection in severe acne or pimples.

4. Aids Weight Loss 

Konjac-based foods are part of popular diet plans because glucomannan helps keep a person satiated for longer. Like all fibres, konjac achieves this by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties itself.

The inclusion of konjac rice, noodles, or jelly in well-rounded diet plans can increase the potential of losing weight. Eating konjac-based foods as snacks between main meals prevents unhealthy food binges. Alternatively, consuming a nut mixture that includes almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds can help a person stay full for longer periods. It also provides an intake of protein and healthy fats.

Things to Consider Before Consuming Konjac 

TCM believes that konjac is bitter, cold, and pungent. According to Senior Physician Brandon Yew, “People with yang (warming energy) or qi (vital life energy) deficiency of the heart, lung, spleen and kidneys, excessive yin (bodily fluids and cooling energy), and cold pathogen must avoid consuming Konjac.”

The best ways to consume konjac is in the form of powder, noodles, and jelly. It should not be consumed raw due to its toxicity. This means, you should cook it thoroughly by boiling, frying, and steaming.

The consumption of konjac rice, noodles, jelly, or supplements can provide an array of health benefits. You can add them as part of your meal, to support a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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