What is Konjac?
Konjac is a vegetable that is known to grow in parts of Asia. It is a root vegetable and is known for its starchy corm, which is a tuber like part of the stem that grows underground. The corm is used to make glucomannan, which is a rich source of dietary fiber.
Konjac is used as a traditional source of medicine and as a food source to make noodles and snacks. Different products made using konjac corm are:
- Konjac Flour: It is made by grinding down dry konjac corm to flour. It is used to make noodles.
- Konjac Jelly: Further processing of konjac flour can make it useful in making gums and jellies. It can be used as an alternative to gelatin that can be used as a food thickener.
- Konjac Soluble Fiber: On purifying konjac jelly it can further be used as a dietary supplement.
Health Benefits of Konjac
Konjac is linked with several potential health benefits. Most of its benefits are related to the high content of glucomannan.
Research shows, consuming glucomannan by mixing it with American ginseng can lead to moderate improvement in blood sugar levels and help in the management of type 2 diabetes.(1) A review done in 2015 found that glucomannan helped people with diabetes to consume foods that increase blood sugar levels in lesser quantity as it gives a fuller feeling.(2)
Konjac can prove to be beneficial for people who are looking forward to losing weight.
Fiber if consumed regularly keeps a person full for a longer period of time reducing the snacking in between the meals.
A study done in 2005 showed, adding glucomannan fiber to a balanced diet helped the participants in reducing weight.(3) Glucomannan keeps a person full for a longer time period by slowing down the rate at which the digestive system empties.(4)
Konjac can be effective in lowering cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels.(6) It can also lower body weight and fasting blood sugar. Glucomannan can be an adjuvant therapy for people with diabetes and high cholesterol level.
A study found that konjac lowered the LDL cholesterol level and was also recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.(7)
Improves Skin Health
Konjac can help in reducing acne and can improve the overall health of the skin.(8) It also has the potential to reduce allergic response and improve wound healing.
Regulates Bowel Movements
Glucomannan helps in regulating bowel movement and preventing constipation. A review found glucomannan to be effective in improving the frequency of bowel movements in children suffering from constipation.(10) However, this effect was not seen always.
One more study done in 2018 found that glucomannan supplementation improved constipation during pregnancy.(11) It increased the frequency of stool and also improved stool consistency.
Risk, Precautions, and Side Effects of Konjac
Konjac candies can cause choking and death in children and older adults. Its candies have a gelatinous structure and like other gelatin, candies do not dissolve in the mouth.
Konjac is also known to expand in the esophagus or bowel and cause obstruction. The risk is higher if it is consumed:
- In tablet form
- In any form without water
- By elderly people
- By people with problems in swallowing
Konjac is banned in several countries due to its high incidence of bowel and throat obstruction. Konjac supplements should be avoided by children, pregnant, and breastfeeding females.
If someone has an allergic reaction after consuming konjac, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Konjac is known to lower the blood sugar level as it slows down the absorption of sugar. Those with diabetes and taking any medication for it should monitor diabetes regularly if taking konjac for blood sugar management.
Looking over to the side effects, konjac should always be consumed with water. It has numerous benefits, but should also be consumed with caution.