What is Konjac?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

The konjac plant of Asia produces a starchy fiber used in many health foods of Japan. It often exists in a gelatinous form, though it also can be produced with a stiff, rubbery finish similar to Western fruit leather. Some common foods that include konjac include vegan gelatin, flour, and herbal supplements.

Flour may contain konjac.
Flour may contain konjac.

This plant is typically known by more colloquial monikers. The most common is devil's tongue. The plant is also referred to as snake palm, elephant yam, and voodoo lily. In addition to Japan, the perennial plant can be found growing in China and Indonesia.

Konjac works as a natural laxative.
Konjac works as a natural laxative.

In Japan, when the plant is used in cooking, it is known as konnyaku. Konnyaku is largely tasteless. The slightly salty, grey mass is prized for its texture rather than its taste. It is typically firmer than traditional Western gelatin, and often served in the form of thin strips or a thicker, rectangular bar.

Japanese oden contains konjac.
Japanese oden contains konjac.

Many signature Japanese cuisine dishes and snacks contain konnyaku as an ingredient. Fruit jellies, such as lychee cups or candies, are made from the plant. Noodles and tofu alternatives also often contain konjac.

Noodles may contain konjac.
Noodles may contain konjac.

Some areas have banned the sale of konjac products. Expecting a similar product to traditional gelatin, several people have underestimated the need to chew the snacks. Some have consequently fatally choked on the foods. Those who do choose to consume these products should remember to chew them well before swallowing.

A full glass of water should accompany the consumption of konjac in supplemental form.
A full glass of water should accompany the consumption of konjac in supplemental form.

It is also important to know that the plant is not digestible. High in fiber and nearly calorie-free, it works as a natural laxative. For this reason, it is often hailed as an intestinal aid, and taken to help people regulate bowel movements. Dieters also enjoy the food, as it is known for its appetite suppressant capabilities. Diabetic patients may also be able to manage their bodies' glucose levels with the extract.

As a supplement, konjac can be taken in a variety of ways. A tasteless powder is available for those who do not wish to consume products made from the plant. It can usually be implemented into other food dishes easily. Capsules are also available. Tablets for this supplement are typically not used, as they can swell during swallowing, causing a choking hazard.

When taking this supplement, a full glass of water is usually needed. This will usually prevent the taker from choking on the capsules or powder. Some side effects can occur while taking konjac, including flatulence, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.

The tablet form of the knojac supplement may cause a choking hazard.
The tablet form of the knojac supplement may cause a choking hazard.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

Firsty

I've been dieting for about two months and recently discovered konjac noodles. Not only are the noodles delicious, they are low in carbohydrates, calories and fat. One serving has about 24 calories and because they are high in fiber, after I eat them I feel full for hours.

Bdjm56

Konjac fiber isn't one of the most well known supplements but it has many medical benefits. It works well to relieve constipation, improves colon health and helps to lower cholesterol.

Konjak fiber can also be used as a diet aid. Taking it an hour or two before a meal can delay your stomach from emptying, helping you feel full and keeping you from eating as much as you normally would.

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