Cellophane noodles offer many dietary advantages
They absorb liquids easily, making them flavorful and filling
Cellophane noodles are almost pure starch, but don't be put off by the Wonder Bread associations.
Joannie Dobbs, a University of Hawaii professor of nutrition and Star-Bulletin columnist, prefers cellophane noodles to either rice or wheat noodles as the carbohydrate of choice for dieters -- though she cautions that the dish should always include protein.
Cellophane noodles contain less carbohydrate and more water by cooked weight than wheat or rice noodles, she says, making them less fattening.
Some of the noodles contain trace amounts of protein, with no additives, no gluten, and in the case of mung bean noodles, a relatively low glycemic index, making them a good choice for diabetics.
Dobbs, a professor in the University of Hawaii Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, did a comparative study with student Wing Shan Tam, that found Western pastas such as spaghetti pack about 50 percent more calories per cooked cup than cellophane noodles, which absorb several times their volume in liquid instead.
Just as significant, cellophane noodles tend to encourage a lighter hand in the kitchen, as they shine brightest with punchy, flavorful sauces rather than the heavy toppings served with wheat pasta.
"They tend to go better with savory sauces, rather than tomato, which is a little sweet," Dobbs said.
Instead of cheese or cream, transparent noodles take favorably to thin soups, vinegary salads and wet stir-fries, and the liquid they absorb contributes to feeling full. "And most people don't get adequate water," Dobbs notes.
She discounts the nutritional advantages of trace amounts of B vitamin found in pasta, most of which boils off. But you need some starch for energy, she emphasized, even on a diet -- besides which, most people miss the slippery, chewy texture of noodles after a few weeks of "low-carb."