Konjac Glucomannan

glucomannan contained in shirataki noodles. Japanese food ingredient, konjac noodles on pan.
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Konjac glucomannan (KGM) is a highly polymerized dietary fibre obtained from the roots and tubers of the plant Amorphophallus konjac C. Koch. The plant is commonly called the konjac yam, devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam.

The chemical  structure is β‐(1,4)‐linked D‐mannose and D‐glucose residues in a molar ratio of 1.6:1.

Functional Benefits Of Konjac Glucomannan

Konjac gum has three unique functionalities. It can form an extremely viscous solution, has great water binding capabilities, and can form a reversible or a non-thermo-reversible gel. To create such an ingredient, a weak base, such as potassium carbonate, is added to hydrated konjac gum, and the solution is heated. Raising the pH to 9 or 10 creates a gel that is stable over a range of food temperatures, from freezing to cooking. The gel retains its stability when incorporated into food products with a lower pH. .

Konjac glucomannan can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water and can produce a very viscous gel which measures from 12,000 to 20,000 centipoise.

When the food product has an acid or neutral pH, it forms a thermo-reversible gel. It is ideal for product developers creating stable gels that wont breakdown as the temperature increases..

Nutritional Benefits Of Konjac Glucomannan

KGM has a number of useful physiological and nutritional benefits (Chua et al., 2010; Behera & Ray, 2016). It can reputedly act as a:-

  • antigenotoxic agent,
  • antioxidant,
  • antibacterial agent,
  • reduces obesity,
  • antidiabetic agent,
  • anticoagulant,
  • anti‐inflammatory agent,
  • regulates in lipid metabolism,
  • laxative,
  • prebiotic,
  • antitumor activities

Glucomannan is used for treating a variety of conditions which include constipation, weight loss, diabetes, high cholesterol, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), high blood pressure, and stomach conditions called dumping syndrome and functional gastrointestinal disorder.

It is used in foods as a thickener and gelling agent. Other konjac derivatives include konjac flour which is commonly found in vegan foods and noodles for weight-loss products.

How Does It Work ?

Glucomannan probably absorbs water in the stomach and intestines which is in keeping with other types of soluble fibre. The bulking activity helps relieve constipation.

Management Of Diabetes

Glucomannan mixed with American ginseng has been shown in research to produce a moderate improvement in type 2 diabetes management (Jenkins et al., 2018).

Cholesterol Management

Taking glucomannan supplements may help in regulating cholesterol levels. A 2008 study found that glucomannan has a beneficial effect on the overall cholesterol levels (Sood et al., 2008).  The dose suggested to help improve cholesterol levels is 3 grams per day (Ho et al., 2017).

Products Containing Konjac

References

Behera, S. S., & Ray, R. C. (2016). Konjac glucomannan, a promising polysaccharide of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch in health careInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecule92, pp. 942956. (Article)

Chua, M.Baldwin, T. C.Hocking, T. J., & Chan, K. (2010). Traditional uses and potential health benefits of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch ex NE BrJournal of Ethnopharmacology128, pp. 268278 (Article).

Ho, H. V. T., Jovanovski, E., Zurbau, A., Blanco Mejia, S., Sievenpiper, J. L., Au-Yeung, F., … & Vuksan, V. (2017). A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the effect of konjac glucomannan, a viscous soluble fiber, on LDL cholesterol and the new lipid targets non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition105(5), pp. 1239-1247. .

Jenkins, A. L., Morgan, L. M., Bishop, J., Jovanovski, E., Jenkins, D. J., & Vuksan, V. (2018). Co-administration of a konjac-based fibre blend and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) on glycaemic control and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes: A randomized controlled, cross-over clinical trial. European Journal of Nutrition57(6), pp. 2217-2225 (Article).

Sood, N., Baker, W. L., & Coleman, C. I. (2008). Effect of glucomannan on plasma lipid and glucose concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure: systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition88(4), pp. 1167-1175 (Article). 

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