What are the health benefits of Konjac Flour?
Gemma Shorter (Nutritionist - BSc MSc & ANutr) on the health benefits of Konjac Flour
What is it?
Konjac is a natural dietary fibre derived from the tubers or root of the Amorphophallus konjac plant, generally found in South East Asia. It has an edible corm, or sometimes referred to as a yam, which is very high in fibre and low in carbohydrates and calories. As we cannot digest konjac, it passes relatively unchanged into the colon, where it is fermented by colonic bacteria.
It is regularly used to make low-carb products such as ‘Slim’ noodles and rice. It is also used as a vegan substitute for gelatine and as a bulking agent in foods to help thicken or add texture, appearing as E425 on food labels. For over 2000 years konjac has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to aid detoxification and tumour suppression, as well as treating asthma, hernias and skin disorders (1).
What are the health benefits?
Konjac is particularly rich in a fiber called glucomannan. Glucomannan is a soluble fibre, which means it dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. Due to its high molecular weight, it can absorb up to 50 times its own weight in water, which makes it one of the most viscous dietary fibres (which is why it should be taken in small doses). By forming a gel-like substance that ‘sits’ in the gut, konjac may help to increase satiety (2). The feeling of satiety can lead to a reduction in further eating by declining hunger and increasing the feeling of fullness after a meal.
According to a critical review published in 2019, supplementing the diet with konjac may help to prevent many chronic diseases through the regulation of metabolism. The review found that konjac was able to aid weight loss, as well as reducing the levels of glucose, triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and blood pressure (3).
A number of studies have also suggested that due to prolonging satiety, konjac may also aid weight loss. One study found that compared to two other dietary supplements, konjac was found to induce a reduction in body weight in healthy overweight subjects (4). In a critical review published in 2005, at doses of 2-4g per day, konjac was well tolerated and resulted in significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals (5). However, further investigation of safety and mechanisms of action is needed to determine whether konjac can be used specifically to aid sustainable weight loss.
Konjac is one of a number of fibres in Lo-Dough that contributes to its 9.3g of overall fibre. At just 39 kcal and 2.2g of carbs per piece, it's a perfect option for dieters looking for a pizza base replacement, amongst countless other uses.