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Ingredient of the month: Glucomannan

What is it?
Sometimes called konjac mannan, glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fibre derived from konjac flour, which comes from the tubers of various species of Amorphophallus, plants related to the common philodendron house plant.

When was it discovered?
It has been used for thousands of years in China, where it is known as Moyu or Juruo, and in Japan, where it is known as Konnyaku or Shirataki.

Where does it come from?
China, Japan and Vietnam

How is it beneficial?
Glucomannan products are widely used in Japan and China as general health aids, especially in cleansing toxins from the bowels; topically, for skin care; and as a thickening agent for foods, among other things.

Glucomannan has demonstrated some usefulness in the management of obesity, diabetes and constipation, and has been shown to reduce cholesterol and discourage blood-sugar abnormalities such as hyperglycaemia.

What can be done with it?
Glucomannan is used in Japan as a cooking supplement for soups and stew-like dishes, and sold in blocks like tofu. It can also be used to make pasta and noodles.

In the US, it is marketed as a dietary supplement, due both to its ability to soak up large amounts of water, making the stomach feel full, and because it binds fats in the large intestine.

Industry insights from NBJ

The $520 million US kids' supplements market in 2005

Source: NBJ Supplement Business Report 2006; NBJ Children's Products Data Set on


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