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Shirataki Noodles Are Very Good For You In Many Ways

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Shirataki Noodles in wood bowl

What is satiating, gluten-free, fat-free, virtually carb- and calorie-free, and potentially delicious? Shirataki Noodles! Heard of them?

The thin, translucent, gelatinous Japanese noodles (also called miracle noodles, glucomannan noodles, konjac noodles, or konnyaku noodles) are becoming increasingly popular as a low-carb, ketogenic pasta replacement, so let’s have a look at just what makes them so miraculous.

For starters, they are made from the konjac yam (AKA devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam) that’s native to China’s Yunnan province and cultivated other regions in eastern Asia. They can be purchased wet (soft) or dried at Asian markets and some supermarkets.

The Good

Shirataki noodles are composed of 97% water, 3% fiber and traces of protein, fat, and calcium, meaning they have virtually no calories and carbohydrates.

More specifically, there are four calories and roughly only one gram of net carbs in every 100 g / 3.5 oz of shirataki noodles, which is astonishing for a plant-based food. Such a nutritional profile makes them perfect for any diet, especially a low ketogenic diet.

The reason why the packaging may say “zero” calories or “zero carbs” is because, at least in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in the world, products with less than five calories and/or less than 1 gram of carbs, protein and fat are allowed to to be labeled as zero.

Because Shirataki noodles are mostly water and fiber, they leave you feeling more satiated than comparable high-carb, low-fiber foods like pasta and less likely to reach for that bag of chips. Moreover, the noodles provide a unique type of fiber that is rarely found in western diets.

Replacing any high-carb food like pasta and rice with a virtually zero calorie and zero carb food like shirataki noodles could do wonders for your weight and overall health, manly because of the glucomannan they contain.

Studies have found that glucomannan, a soluble fiber that comprises 40% of the dry weight of the konjac plant, has many properties that are conducive to weight-loss and better cardiovascular health. In addition to promoting satiety by keeping you fuller for longer and with less food, it has a number of other benefits:

Shirataki noodles are truly miraculous, and you have little to lose by including them in your diet. However, there are a few potential drawbacks that you should be aware of.

The “Bad”

Shirataki noodles have very little micronutrients, and as beneficial as glucomannan may be, it expands rapidly and can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water, so much water, in fact, that emptying a single glucomannan capsule into a small glass of water turn the entire thing into gel. This helps trigger satiety, but it can also cause discomfort.

If glucomannan expands before reaching the stomach, it may cause choking or blockage of the throat and esophagus. But this is an issue that can be prevented by washing it down with 1-2 glasses of water or other liquid.

Glucomannan has also been found to cause bloating, flatulence, and soft stools or diarrhea. It can potentially reduce the bioavailability of oral medications and supplements; if that happens to you, try taking your medication at least 4 hours after or one hour before consuming it.

It is important to note, however, that all of these side effects stem from glucomannan itself and not Shirataki noodles. The fact that the noodles are usually saturated with water and sauce when eaten means you probably won’t experience any of these side-effects.

The Verdict

There has been an outpouring of research showning that Shirataki Noodles are an excellent addition to any weight-loss diet, thanks mostly to the glucomannan they contain. Glucomannan is gluten-free, and as a soluble fiber, absorbs water in the stomach to make you feel fuller for longer.

Glucomannan is an effective weight-loss supplement, and Shirataki Noodles are versatile, keto-friendly and gluten-free alternative to regular noodles, spaghetti and pasta, rice and any other staple rich in carbs, starch and calories. However, as with just about every weight-loss strategy, neither works in isolation. For you to achieve lasting results, you need to make a permanent change to your lifestyle.

Are you up for the challenge?

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Diet & Health

Do Vitamins Have Calories? Will They Make You Fat?

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Two vitamin supplement pills

Calories aside, a healthy serving of vitamins is essential for your health, so don’t skimp.

Taking vitamins supplements, as opposed to preferably getting them from wholesome foods, can help round out your diet and ensure that your daily requirements are met. As for the question of whether vitamins have calories, it’s just one of several important variables you must consider.

Purpose Of Vitamins

No, vitamins do not contain calories, nor do they provide your body with energy. This means you don’t have to worry about gaining weight, getting fat or even disrupting your intermittent fasting from taking too much of them.

After vitamins from supplements or food are absorbed, your body uses them for various health-enhancing processes , such as:

  • Absorbing and metabolizing other nutrients.
  • Energy production for your daily activities.
  • Promoting normal cell function
  • Encouraging normal growth and development
  • Keeping you immune system in tip-top condition to prevent disease

It goes without saying that vitamins add to your overall well-being. Vitamin D, for instance, helps your body absorb calcium and promote bone growth, and too little of it results in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia).

Vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic that has also been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and other maladies. In fact, studies have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease.

Melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, so if you are dark-skinned and live in a country without a lot of sunlight, especially during the winter months, or a home-body who doesn’t go out a lot, there is good chance you might be vitamin D deficient. It’s time you probably considered taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis.

Types Of Vitamins

Life would be so much simpler if we had a single vitamin that served all of our bodily needs and can be taken whenever and wherever, but that’s not the world we live in, at least not yet. In other words, when it comes to getting the right vitamins and in the right quantities, eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods is paramount to good health.

As noted by Carol Byrd-Bredbenner in her book “Perspectives in Nutrition,” Vitamins come in two types — water-soluble and fat-soluble — which partly explains why our bodies don’t always absorb the majority of vitamin supplements we consume.

Fat-soluble vitamins are those that are transported by fats and include vitamins A, D, E and K. To get the most out of fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to take them with meals containing some fat.

Water-soluble vitamins are those that dissolve in water and are readily absorbed into tissues for immediate use. They include the B vitamins and vitamin C.

I like to take all my vitamins during my meals, which usually include a healthy serving of avocados, eggs and sometimes fish and/or meat.

Myths About Vitamins

There is persisting misconception that if taking a little of a certain vitamin helps to improve symptoms of a condition, then taking more will result in greater improvement. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to taking vitamins.

According to “Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy,” the most respected nutrition text for over 50 years, the body can only absorb and use a certain amount of the vitamins we consume. Moreover, it cannot absorb man-made vitamin supplements as easily as vitamins in foods. These are other key reasons why you should not use vitamin supplements as a replacement for food.

Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy, with Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claiming that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. However, research has shown that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold.

A 2017 study pooling the results of 29 different studies that looked at the effect of vitamin C on colds found that taking 200 milligrams of vitamin C every single day rather than just on days when you’re sick could make cold symptoms go away about one day sooner. But that’s where the benefits end.

Benefits Of Vitamins Supplements

Vitamins are a must for a properly-functioning body, but some people have more need for certain vitamins than other. Because vitamin B12 is  naturally found in animal products, vegans, for example, are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency and, therefore, can benefit from B-12 supplements.

On the same hand, parents concerned about the picky eaters in the family can give their children vitamin supplements to round out their diet.

Ideally, you should be getting all your vitamins from food because that’s what our bodies are accustomed to working with. It can’t be stressed enough that you should not use vitamin supplements as a replacement for food.

Be Careful With Vitamins

Gorging on vitamin supplements won’t make you fat or even gain weight, but that doesn’t mean you should. Taking excessively large doses of vitamins can result in adverse health effects.

Fat soluble vitamins, in particular, are stored in the body’s tissues and tend to remain there. They can build up in your system overtime if you consume too much, resulting in a potentially dangerous condition called hypervitaminosis.

Moreover, some water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, can cause diarrhea if taken in excess.

You should, however, report any vitamins you are taking to your doctor if you are on medication. Vitamins can interact and interfere with medicine, which can cause the prescription to be ineffective or cause other adverse effects.

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Diet & Health

Here’s What The Future Of Food Could Look Like

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Food Sensor Chip on Teeth

Devices like tooth sensors that measure sugar and alcohol intake, as well as monitor other health qualities, could revolutionize the food industry as we know it.

From new technologies detecting specific ingredients and allergens in food to the expansion of cell-cultured meat, the list of emerging technologies that help consumers understand what they are eating grows by the day.

According Max Elder, a researcher at the Institute for the Future’s Food Futures Lab, “the future is already here, and it’s about time the food industry faced it head first.

Elder believes that for Consumer packaged goods companies to prepare for new challenges, they will need to “work backwards” to come up with strategies for creating the industry they want.

Computer Circuit Chip Apple Fruit

The Future Of Food Technology

Too many of today’s packaged foods are filled with empty calories, and people are no longer able to rely on their five senses to get accurate information about what they’re eating. Products labels have traditionally been relied upon to provide said information, but they could be misleading and are often difficult to understand.

In fact, a 2018 study by the Center for Food Integrity also found that only 33% of survey respondents “strongly agree” that they are confident in the safety of the food they consume. Such a high level of distrust has prompted the development of a new suite of technologies that help consumers make better-informed decisions about their food, “radical” technologies that Elder says will likely be widespread over the next decade.

Examples of such devices include an ingestible sensor being by Carnegie Mellon University that monitors gastrointestinal health and a tiny tooth sensor from Tufts University that can measure glucose, sugar and alcohol intake.

But before sensors in guts or on teeth become ubiquitous, Elder said they will likely be situated outside the body. Chinese search engine company Baidu, for instance, has developed smart chopsticks that can detect the freshness of cooking oil.

Those suffering from celiac disease will find Nima especially useful. Nima is a small portable machine that uses a sensor to test for trace amounts of gluten when crumbs are placed into it, and the namesake company behind its creation is developing variants of the technology for other allergens, including peanuts and shellfish.

While the food knowledge consumer can gain from such new technology could pose a challenge to food companies, but it is also an opportunity for brands to get more information on what eaters want and tailor their products, services and communication accordingly.

Slab of red meat

More Sustainable, Humane Meat

We can’t talk about the future of food without mention of the lab-grown meat industry, which has the potential to expand despite regulatory setbacks.

There has been a rapidly growing movement towards and major investment in exploring more cellular food systems, and while it’s too early to know if cultured meat is as healthy or nutritious as conventionally-produced meat, the segment could potentially be a major part of the food of the future.

According to Paul Shapiro Author of Clean Meat and former vice president for The Humane Society of the United States, clean meat is better for the environment than raising and slaughtering animals, whether conventional, grass-fed or free-range. Instead pouring tons of resources into raising an entire animal that won’t be eaten in its entirety — horns, eyeballs, hooves, brains, etc. all go to waste — growing meat in a lab only results in the parts and calories consumers need.

The lab-grown meat industry is still in its infancy and the market is small, meaning cell-cultured meat commands a price premium over conventional meat. However, if the industry can eventually achieve price parity, the only issue it will have to contend with is how comfortable consumers are with eating meat produced in a lab.

Traditional Farming

Meeting Environmental Values

There has been a growing demand for transparency in the food industry, and many consumers desire to know what is in their food and actively look for ecolabels that align to their values (Fair Trade, Non-GMO, etc.). An increasing number of individuals are also reading the label to look for names they recognize and trust before they make a purchase.

That’s to say companies will have to cater to consumer’s environmental values more so than ever but must do so with caution. Not fully understanding the environmental impact of new types of food production could lead to some companies making claims they may not be able to hold up.

Like everything in life, the food industry is undergoing a transformation, and most certainly for the better. The future looks promising for the health- and environmentally-conscious consumer.


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Diet & Health

Science Has Found The Best Way To Wash Pesticides Off Apples

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Apple on tree

Polishing an apple with your shirt might get rid of some dust and dirt, but removing the pesticides will require a little more work.

New research has found that washing apples with baking soda, the common yet miraculous household product, could be all you need to eliminate most of the residues on the surface of apples and other fruits.

Pesticides have long been used to increase crop yield, but rising concerns over their adverse effect on human health has many people talking. While the exact effects depend on the type of pesticides and the amount eaten, the World Health Organization says that certain pesticides could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children.

A growing number of people have opted for organic food as way of avoiding the chemicals, but organic food usually command a price premium and there is no guarantee that pesticides were used. In fact, the organic, naturally-occurring pesticides that some organic farms use aren’t necessarily safer.

Washing has been and remains the standard practice used by both consumers and the food industry to remove pesticides, but some of the plant-protecting compounds that get absorbed by the skin of fruits and vegetables might be more resilient to current cleaning methods. To find the best method, Lili He, Assistant Professor at the ‎University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues conducted a study in which they applied two common pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole, which past research has shown can penetrate apple peels, and the insecticide phosmet — to organic Gala apples and then washed apples with three different liquids: tap water, a 1 percent baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce.

The baking soda solution proved the most effective at removing pesticides, eliminating 80 percent of the thiabendazole and 96 percent of the phosmet, respectively, after 12 and 15 minutes of the fruits being soaked. Plain tap water and the bleach solution were far less effective.

The different percentages are likely due to thiabendezole’s greater absorption into the apple. Mapping images showed that thiabendazole had penetrated up to 80 micrometers deep into the apples, while phosmet was detected at a depth of only 20 micrometers.

So, there you have it, if washing is your preferred method of removing pesticides off your fruits and vegetables, using a baking soda solution is the way to go. If all other options are to be considered, then peeling your produce is probably your best bet.


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