Beloved by college students and starving artists around the world, ramen noodles are an inexpensive, convenient meal. However, the unhealthy components and lack of nutrients make it an unhealthy choice for more than an occasional indulgence. The price you pay later with regard to your health is a poor trade-off for the low cost of a daily bowl of ramen.
A package of ramen noodles generally contains a block of pre-fried noodles and a packet of seasoning. For most brands, a single package of 85 g is actually considered two servings, although the entire package is frequently consumed in its entirety as a single meal. A package of ramen noodles generally costs under $1 per serving and takes less than five minutes to prepare.
The fat content of ramen noodles is high because the noodles are fried during the manufacturing process. One package of ramen contains 13.3 g of fat, including 6.4 g of saturated fat. Saturated fat in the diet raises cholesterol levels and contributes to cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 7 percent of your total daily calories and total fat to between 25 and 35 percent of your daily caloric intake. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this means limiting total fat to between 55 and 78 g per day and keeping saturated fat below 15.5 g per day.
One package of ramen noodles contains 1,731 g of sodium, more than half of the daily recommended intake for healthy adults with a low risk of high blood pressure, or hypertension, and more than 100 percent of the total daily recommendation for people in high-risk groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high-risk groups include anyone diagnosed with hypertension, people over age 40 and African-Americans. People who are pre-hypertensive, with a blood pressure slightly below the limit for hypertension, and those with family members who have high blood pressure should also limit sodium intake. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke and renal failure.
If the bad things in ramen aren't reason enough to avoid making them a part of your daily diet, these noodles are also low in nutrients that you would otherwise get when consuming healthier foods. While ramen does contain a few trace minerals and vitamins, such as riboflavin and selenium, these nutrients can be found in higher quantities in many other foods. Instead, choose a low-salt canned soup that includes vegetables and a piece of fruit or glass of juice on the side.
To reduce calories and sodium, you can eat only half a package of the ramen. A better option includes not adding the seasoning packet and loading up the broth and noodles with steamed vegetables and lean protein, such as chicken.